Berlin government advises on money, too few teachers and start-ups
A good six weeks after the start of government, the black and red Senate wants to be more specific and set its timetable for the near future. The retreat in Schorfheide is also about interpersonal relationships. By Sabine Mueller
- Immediate program instead of 100-day program
- not enough money to fulfill all departmental requests
- Wegner values team building
One thing is certain right from the start: the meeting will not fail because of the right environment. The hotel in the Schorfheide, to which the Senate will retire on Saturday, promises a break from the “hustle and bustle of the metropolis”, “unique peace” and “fragrant forest air” on its website. In theory, the Senate could even “bath in the forest” with a meditation coach.
Everything is perfectly geared towards stress relief and relaxation. Although it does not appear that this Senate urgently needs to reduce stress – as demonstratively as top people from the CDU and SPD not only publicly emphasize how well things are going so far. “Now it has to be more specific,” says Governing Mayor Kai Wegner to rbb.
Immediately instead of 100 days
While the previous governments of Michael Müller and Franziska Giffey (both SPD) each launched 100-day programs with the most important short-term projects, Kai Wegner relies on an “immediate program”.
A look at the calendar shows that a 100-day plan would have been doomed to failure. Because this Saturday is already the 43rd day of the black-red government and day 100 is in the middle of the parliamentary summer break. Until then, the coalition will have little tangible evidence to show.
Instead, the emergency program, for which each of the ten Senate departments names its five most important projects that need to be tackled particularly urgently. Economics Senator Franziska Giffey told rbb that she wanted, among other things, to realign the “Neustart Wirtschaft” program for sectors that were particularly affected by the corona pandemic and to launch a start-up package to make it easier to found companies based on research . Priorities of other departments will be the shortage of teachers, faster construction and more powers for the police.
In addition to the registrations from the Senate departments, there are also well-known priorities of the Governing Mayor, such as administrative reform and digitization. In the end, the result will be a kind of emergency version of the coalition agreement, with tasks that “go well beyond 100 days,” as Franziska Giffey emphasizes.
Topics with potential for conflict
Other important topics that are on the agenda on Sunday are the next budget and the major task of accommodating and integrating the many refugees in Berlin. For the first time, all senators are intensively discussing the double budget for 2024/25.
Kai Wegner expects “challenging negotiations” because it has long been clear that there is not enough money for the many requests from the departments. It remains to be seen whether all members of the Senate have already processed this emotionally or whether the debate will develop into a mood downer.
In any case, the schedule is set: On July 11, the Senate wants to adopt its budget plans and then give them to parliamentary deliberations.
Thinking bans are forbidden
A move from the CDU parliamentary group could stir up the debate on the “Task Force Refugees” item on the agenda. Group leader Dirk Stettner had in an interview with the “Berlin Morning Post” demanded that new large locations are needed – otherwise the expected influx of up to 12,000 more people this year cannot be managed. Stettner thinks above all of accommodation options on the Tempelhofer Feld.
The Social Democratic Senator for Integration, Cansel Kiziltepe, has so far made no mention of new tent cities. Before the exam, Kai Wegner emphasized that there should be “no bans on thinking”.
The design of the special fund for climate protection is also to be discussed. The coalition has promised a lot of money here – up to ten billion euros – but has so far given little concrete information about where this money should go.
Team building with built-in corrective
It is clearly important to the Governing Mayor to weld his Senate ranks together as a team. Kai Wegner not only talks a lot about this, he also does something about it. Shortly after the start of government, for example, he invited the senators to dinner in the Red City Hall, deliberately without a political agenda.
The seclusion of a closed conference with more time should intensify getting to know each other, this time including the state secretaries. The faction leaders of the CDU and SPD, who are also present at the regular Senate meetings, also received invitations.
SPD faction leader Raed Saleh has, however, apologized that he cannot attend due to private commitments. Which has the potentially desirable side effect for him that he can avoid joint liability for unpopular decisions because he wasn’t there when they were made.
For the CDU parliamentary group leader, Saleh’s rejection means that he has to fill the role of parliamentary forewarner this weekend alone. Stettner is likely to raise a finger in warning if he is convinced that Senate plans will not pass in Parliament.
The leaders of the CDU and SPD factions have already drawn in their guard rails of what works and what doesn’t. They had already met for a retreat at the end of last week, almost unnoticed by the media public.
Broadcast: rbb24 Inforadio, June 9th, 2023, 3:37 p.m
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