Hessian State Court: Corona special fund of the state is unconstitutional

The state government finances the billion-dollar aid programs to cope with the Corona crisis primarily from its special assets. Wrongly, as the Hessian State Court has now ruled. Now a new regulation is needed.

According to the Hessian State Court, the multi-billion Corona special fund of the state is not in accordance with the Hessian state constitution – the Constitutional Court came to the conclusion on Wednesday afternoon.

Judge Roman Poseck justified that the special fund violated the state parliament’s budget law. With the budget right, the Hessian state parliament has the opportunity to set the budget annually. The special fund, with a total of 12 billion euros, was set to run until 2023.

Deadline until the end of March 2022

The state court set the black-green state government a deadline until the end of March 2022 for a new regulation. Until then, the previous regulations will continue to apply, it said on Wednesday in the judgment. There also does not have to be any reversal for the money called up from the special fund, and measures that have already been approved could remain in place.

However, the court did not object to the fact that the debt brake had been waved through with a simple majority by black and green.

The decision of the State Court of Justice was not without malice among the opposition in the state parliament. She described them on Wednesday as “heavy gossip” for the state government and “clear defeat”.

Criticism from the SPD, FDP and AfD

This was preceded by a lawsuit by the opposition factions in the state parliament. They accused the black-green state government of unconstitutionally bypassing the debt brake and incurring new debts.

Members of the parliamentary groups of the SPD and FDP had submitted a norm review application against the corresponding law “Secure Hesse’s good future” in November 2020, the AfD parliamentary group in March of this year.

The members of the opposition parliamentary groups had justified their application to Hesse’s highest court by stating that they were of the opinion that the so-called Good Future Protection Act was unconstitutional. It violates budgetary constitutional principles, the state parliament’s budget law and the ban on new borrowing.

Opposition calls for distribution to supplementary budgets

In the summer of last year, the Hessian state parliament decided with the votes of the government factions of the CDU and the Greens on the state’s loan-financed special fund. Black-Green had specially changed the voting rules to be able to enforce the package single-handedly. For the necessary relaxation of the debt brake anchored in the Hessian constitution, a two-thirds majority was no longer necessary as before, but only a simple one.

The opposition vehemently rejects the financing model and has been speaking of a shadow budget ever since. Instead, there is still a demand to rely on supplementary budgets to cope with the corona costs.

How will the grants be used?

With the money from the Corona special fund, the consequences of the Corona crisis in Hesse are to be mitigated. To this end, loans may be taken out from the special fund until the end of 2023. For example, tax losses by the state and municipalities are to be offset. The total volume is twelve billion euros.

Hessen is already starting to repay the funds in the current year. So far, according to the Ministry of Finance, 296 concrete aid for more than 5.9 billion euros has been initiated from the loan-financed special fund.

The now twelfth aid package, which passed the budget committee of the Hessian state parliament in September, was primarily about financial support for cities, districts and municipalities as well as funds for public transport and health protection.

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