MK Rabbi Gafni: If Special-Ed Budget Not Arranged, State Budget Won’t Pass

YERUSHALAYIM -
Knesset budget
Rabbi Moshe Gafni (UTJ), chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, presiding over a session. (Miriam Alster/Flash90 )

Chairman of the Finance Committee MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni was re-elected to his post on Sunday, as per the coalition agreement between the Likud and UTJ.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) said, “Whoever said there is no stability in the political system should see that we went through quite a bit in order to place MK Gafni in his natural place. Congratulations. I think that, beyond a lot of things, it is of the utmost importance that you head the Committee in such a complex period. Members of the Finance Committee, what rests on your shoulders in the near future is exceptional.

“We are heading towards a very complex period of time, with a state budget and many other steps, most of which are not simple at all. I’m glad the Committee will be led by one of the most experienced and appreciated people in this building, and one whose opinion is respected. You have always worked with  broad vision, with a deep understanding of the material, the needs, and the overall picture. We need this in these complex days, much more than in regular days. I want to congratulate you, the task before you is not easy, and I know that you will lead the Committee in the best way possible.”

MK Rabbi Gafni said, “Excited is a big word. I have been through the process several times, it was exciting and still is. We have reached an unprecedented time. The situation here was very difficult even before the pandemic. Already back then I told my colleagues, when we went into a large deficit, that a normal state handles the deficit, an economy like that of the State of Israel is an economy that can be managed, but instead we went to three election campaigns. It was impossible to understand how a normal country [was entering such a process], and then came the coronavirus.

“The Committee here is at the crossroads of the government, the public and the Knesset, and it will have to deal with the problems. I know our lives will be difficult. We will have to cut back on a large part, and on a large part we will not agree without supervision​. The State Economy Law is on the table, this is the first law by the minister. So we need to take that into consideration. On the other hand, I don’t hear that the Committee will not need to know everything. We will demand to know where the money is going, according to which criterion, and why part of it is not being transferred to employers, even to those who have not laid off employees. There is a new finance minister, but we are not in a simple situation, so we will need to supervise properly.”

On Monday, at the opening of the first session of the Finance Committee of the 23rd Knesset, MK Rabbi Gafni threatened that without the arranging of the special education budget, “we will not pass the state budget.”

Passing the special education budget became a struggle in the past year, when the Finance Committee and the Temporary Education Committee on election attacks met several times – but their meetings ended without resolution.

During the discussions, an undertaking was presented by Education Ministry Director-General Shmuel Abouab and the Ministry of Finance to amend the budget of NIS 80 million, with the commitment to finally bring the issue to the coalition agreement.

A committee leading the fight for special-education children said, “It is hoped that these statements will be translated into actions. We have too many promises and dramatic words that have all fizzled into nothing.”