Budget speech under special auspices

The government has already anticipated the focus with the tax reform, the exact figures will only be known immediately before the decision in the Council of Ministers. However, some details had already leaked in advance.

According to the APA, the health budget will be below the figures for this year, but still amount to 1.2 billion euros more than originally planned. Provisions must be made for the tax reform, 750 million euros alone for the lowering of wage tax. An additional budget has been earmarked for student funding.

More money for asylum

More money is also being reserved for the asylum sector in view of the increasing number of refugees. After the significant decrease in the previous year, the number of asylum applications has risen again this year: 10,518 means almost double the number of 5,657 applications in the first half of 2021. This is reflected in the budget with rising costs for basic care and other services. Instead of falling slightly as planned, spending on foreign affairs is reportedly increasing from 315 million euros this year to just under 350 million euros.

Expensive coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus crisis continues to cause high costs. The health budget of Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) alone is likely to be almost 1.2 billion euros above the original plans in the coming year – but still well below the budget planned for this year. Among other things, this incurs costs for the procurement of vaccines and for the tests that can still be carried out free of charge until at least the end of March. According to previous information, however, no big leaps are planned in the social area. Most recently, only pilot projects of the announced major long-term care reform were budgeted.

ORF.at/Roland Winkler

Blümel at the National Council meeting on Tuesday

Investment premium cost 1.5 billion euros

In addition to the 300 million euros for the “springboard” campaign (until 2023), funds for the last phase of short-time work are also planned in the budget of ÖVP labor minister Martin Kocher. The investment premium decided to stimulate the economy is expected to cost the economic department another 1.5 billion euros over the next two years.

Financing is made easier by the EU’s “reconstruction fund”, which also supports broadband expansion. Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) is responsible for the latter, whose budget, according to the information available to the APA from the budget negotiations, is to increase by over 300 million euros.

For ÖVP Education Minister Heinz Faßmann, among other things, an increase in scholarships for the coming winter semester is priced in. Most recently, student grants were increased by 60 million euros in 2017. At that time, among other things, it was about compensating for the inflation that had started in 2008. Now it’s about four years and a correspondingly lower sum.

Climate ticket “cheaper” thanks to low interest rates

The budget of Environment and Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) is also being increased – albeit less than would have been expected in view of the additional costs for the climate ticket. The additional expenses are offset by savings of a good 300 million euros annually in the ÖBB grants. The background is, according to reports, the low interest rates and the correspondingly cheap loans for the infrastructure expansion of the railways. The climate budget includes subsidies for the modernization of heating systems.

The first stage of the tax reform is taking place

The costs of the tax reform will not yet be fully felt in the coming year. The first stage of the wage tax reduction is initially only estimated at 750 million euros, because the lowering of the second tariff level from 35 to 30 percent will not take effect until July 1. In 2023, the costs, including the second stage, are expected to rise to just under two billion euros.

Here the third tariff level drops – again on July 1 – from 42 to 40 percent. The increase in the family bonus will also only place a significant burden on the budget from 2023 onwards. It remains to be seen which deficit the government is aiming for. For the end of the legislative period, Blümel recently targeted the reduction of national debt to “just over 70 percent”.

More money for culture

The culture budget for 2022 is likely to increase significantly more than originally planned. After an increase of 30 million euros to 496 million euros in 2021, expenditures in 2022 will not rise to 526 million euros, as originally estimated, but even to almost 560 million euros, i.e. by over ten percent. One item is an approximately 20 million euro increase in the basic compensation for the federal museums and federal theaters.

According to the APA, the basic compensation for both areas is to be increased significantly for the first time in years. According to the federal budget for 2021, the federal theaters received around 165 million euros and the federal museums around 128 million euros, which corresponds to a total of around 293 million euros. The planned increase for the coming year is thus around seven percent.

Decision in November

Other big chunks are additional expenses for the construction of the children’s opera of the State Opera in the Künstlerhaus, the well-known renovation of the folklore museum and the Prater ateliers as well as the renovation of festival halls and various subsidies.

After the budget speech on Wednesday, the draft budget will be subjected to a first reading on Thursday, i.e. an analysis by the parliamentary clubs, before it goes to the budget committee for further treatment, including an expert hearing. The decision in plenary is planned for November.

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