Finally: a budget has been passed. Waiting in the wings since the 2015 elections, the budget faced fierce opposition from the opposition. This morning, the government approved a budget for 2017-18, saving the coalition.
The 2017 budget is expected to stand at 454.1 billion shekels, while the 2018 budget is expected to grow to 463.6 shekels.
In turn, these numbers represent significant increases in the government budget compared to 2016; the budget for 2017 represents a 5.2% real increase from 2016, while the budget for 2018 represents a 8.3% increase from 2016.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud): "This is an important budget, a budget which has the basis for a lot of competition, reforms, and growth, reducing the cost of living and reducing [social] gaps - an important goal for us. You understand after a day, a night, and the beginning of another day, the benefits of a two-year budget, for the good of the Israeli economy, citizens, and the good of the state."
Individual departments will also see increases; the medical budget will see a 200 million shekel increase, the Ministry of Education will receive funds to build 17,000 additional classrooms, competition in the television industry will increase, and the budget for the elderly will grow by 350 million shekels.
Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) blessed the new budget plans. "We have a strong and developing economy," he said. "The new budget has significant drivers for growth, including billions in social budgeting. We will continue to lead the Israeli economy with responsibility and discretion."
The new budget plans are, in particular, a victory for the Education Ministry, which has recently faced the demands of the Finance Ministry to fire thousands of teachers in order to fund new programs.
According to Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), the new budget allows for new programming without firing teachers: "We have succeeded in growing the education budget by 4.7 billion shekels, thus preventing the firing of teachers, and we have brought with us good tidings: strengthening studies in English and mathematics, special education, studies for families in the periphery, making class sizes smaller, and the application of the Biton Report [which strengthens studies in Sephardi Jewish heritage].
"This budget promises years of educational excellence and values for Israeli children. I thank the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance for their acknowledgement that education is a top national priority," a satisfied Bennett added.