Corona crisis: Donation in the Corona crisis: Can the state parliament give away tax money?

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The Presidium of the State Parliament has decided to donate one million euros from the state treasury for social purposes during the Corona crisis. Is it okay?

Even the critics assert that there is no doubt about the best intentions. And yet, the Presidency of the State Parliament around President Ilse Aigner (CSU) may have put itself in a tricky situation with a million donation for social projects. The state parliament, that much is certain, is allowed to distribute money. That is even his very own sovereign task. But can the presidium simply give away tax money by hand? Without any consultation? The first MP who dares to ask these questions openly is the green budgetary politician Claudia Köhler. “Private donations are a wonderful thing, but tax money shouldn’t be donated,” says Köhler.

One million euros remained in the state parliament’s budget in the crisis year 2020

In the beginning there was the desire to help in the Corona crisis. And the state parliament helped. This included the big chunks: In no time at all and without any noteworthy contradiction, the state parliament approved the state government’s aid packages worth billions. This also included the small gestures: Many MPs donated their diet increases. And then there was this one million in the state parliament’s budget, for which there was no use in the crisis year 2020 because because of Corona the summer reception of the President of the State Parliament in Schleissheim Palace, the open day and many other representative events had to be canceled.

This money, the President wanted, should not simply – as usual – be drawn back into the general state budget as the remainder of the budget. It was intended to benefit children and families as well as children in homes and residential groups who got into financial difficulties due to the Corona crisis. Struck in the bureau Aigner At the end of May, the Geld Sternstunden eV, the charity campaign of Bavarian Broadcasting , to make available for children’s projects. According to Aigner in an interview with our editorial team, the association guarantees that every euro donated goes to those in need. Their stated goal: “We want to help those who otherwise fall through the cracks.”

Donation in the Corona crisis: Can the state parliament give away tax money?

There was no objection at the meeting. The five Vice Presidents Karl Freller (CSU), Thomas Gehring (Greens), Wolfgang Heubisch (FDP), Alexander Hold (Free voters) and Markus Rinderspacher (SPD) agreed, as did all other members of the Presidium. In some groups, however, that was not well received – not because there were doubts about the good cause, but because of the way it was done.

MPs sensed party political propaganda by the CSU at the donation

The state parliament could – no matter how good the purpose – not simply donate tax money, according to the Greens internally. With the Free Voters and the FDP, some MPs were also bothered by the fact that it was not just the one symbolic check handover to the Sternstunden eV, but that symbolic check handovers were started on the individual supported projects throughout Bayern to organize and “only CSU politicians were in the photo” at the first handover. They sensed party political propaganda. It is said from several quarters that this has “a bland aftertaste”.

There was a simple reason that this anger was not made public at first: The parliamentary group leaders Ludwig Hartmann (Greens), Florian Streibl (Free Voters) and Martin Hagen (FDP), all three of whom were only informed about the decision of the Presidium afterwards, wanted theirs Vice-presidents who had nodded the million dollar donation shouldn’t stab in the back. They grudgedly noted the incident.

Investigations by our editorial team, however, showed that there is someone in the groups involved who does not want to let the matter rest. The Greens MP Claudia Köhler, deputy chairwoman of the budget committee, followed up. And since it became clear that not even the chairman of the budget committee, Josef Zellmeier (CSU), had been informed about the reallocation of the funds, she no longer minced words.

Examination of the donation by the state parliament office: Aigner defends the decision of the presidium

“Especially when we use tax money, we have to adhere to parliamentary procedures. And especially when it comes to important projects,” says Köhler. The state, as a state and not as a donor, must ensure that social institutions can fulfill their tasks and do not fall into existential poverty or fall through the cracks. And it is “important that the state parliament discusses and decides on this”. Your colleague Zellmeier does not go that far, but neither does he withhold his doubts. The reallocation of the funds, he says, is “probably justifiable under budget law. But it should have been better fed back.”

Ilse Aigner defends the decision of the executive committee. It was a coincidence that only CSU politicians were in the photo when the check was first handed over. In the future, everyone who supported the decision should be part of the party – i.e. everyone except the AfD, which has not yet been able to enforce any of its candidates as vice-president. Aigner’s spokeswoman also assures that the state parliament office has checked the reallocation of the funds from the budget title “Representative obligations of the Bavarian state parliament” and has no doubts about the legality of the million dollar donation.

Approval from the Ministry of Finance is not required

However, there can be no question of an “approval by the Ministry of Finance”, as allegedly presented in the presidium meeting. As the executive branch, the Ministry of Finance cannot impose any requirements on the state parliament, explains a spokesman for Finance Minister Albert Füracker when asked by our editorial team. “The state parliament controls the state government and not the other way around.” The spokesman also emphasized that the Ministry of Finance “saw no reasons that stand in the way of the state parliament’s approach”. The funds could be used for the purposes foreseen in the budget. The state parliament decides on this under its own authority.

The information from the budget committee should be made up for this week, says Aigner’s spokeswoman – regardless of the question of whether the committee should have been informed or not.

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