Moshe Kahlon
Moshe KahlonHillel Maeir/TPS

The Knesset on Tuesday evening approved the first reading of the State Budget for 2019 and the accompanying laws.

61 MKs voted in favor of the budget and 51 voted against it. It still needs to be approved in its second and third readings.

Among the reforms included in the budget are: A national nursing program, increased competition in the television market, moving from bank to bank at the touch of a button, shortening the working week, a reform for shortening vacations, reducing the use of cash, increasing housing supply and encouraging integration in the labor market through work grants.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said, "This is the third social budget that we are presenting during the current Knesset. This budget is a direct continuation of the social revolution that we have been leading in Israel in recent years."

He pledged to “add to where it is needed in order to continue to narrow gaps. A light budget is not good for the weak and not good for reducing social gaps.”

"This is an unprecedented achievement for the government, the Knesset and the Israeli economy," Kahlon continued. This signals to the world the stability and strength of the Israeli economy. It signals to the international markets that Israel has a stable government and a stable economy."

Finance Ministry Director-General Shai Babad said that "the state budget for 2019, which was approved today in its first reading in the Knesset, includes many economic and social clauses, and reflects the priorities of the finance minister and the government of Israel. The budget includes economic growth engines and at the same time continues the significant budgetary momentum for the socially-oriented ministries in order to improve the welfare of all citizens of the country.”

"The Israeli economy is strong, stable and growing. The 2019 budget ensures that long-term positive economic trends are maintained in every parameter, and on the other hand, includes a range of reforms aimed at continuing the trend of reducing social gaps in Israel,” stressed Babad.