Today is the deadline for the president to sign the budget bill. It may also refer it to the Constitutional Tribunal, which will assess whether the act is consistent with the Constitution. However, the president does not have the ability to reject the budget bill.
The Budget Act for 2024 was submitted to the president for signature on January 25 this year. This is the only bill that the head of state cannot veto, but he has two other moves at his disposal within seven days of its submission. If he agrees with the budget voted by the Sejm and Senate, he signs the bill. If it has any reservations, it may decide to refer it to the Constitutional Tribunal to examine its compliance with the Constitution.
The deadline to make a decision is today.
The Budget Act has its own rules
The Budget Act was passed by the Sejm on January 18, 2024; The Senate did not introduce any amendments and voted on it on January 24. The Budget Act has certain differences from other legislative acts. The differences begin at the stage of legislative initiative: only the Council of Ministers has it. The draft expenditure for the next year must be submitted no later than three months before the start of this year.
The Sejm and Senate also work on the budget in a different manner than in the case of other acts. Parliamentary work on the budget must be completed within 4 months from the date of submission of the draft budget act to the Sejm. If this does not happen, the president has the right to order a shortening of the term of office of the Sejm (and therefore of the Senate), which results in the dissolution of the parliament and the need to hold early elections.
The Senate has 20 days to adopt amendments to the budget (not 30 as in the case of other bills). It also cannot reject the budget in its entirety.
Andrzej Duda announced he would “examine the legality” of the budget act
After the “ordinary” bill reaches the president’s desk, he has the above-mentioned three options to choose from. When it comes to budget, there are only two options. So far, the president has not referred the budget bill to the Constitutional Tribunal. Conjectures that it would be different this time appeared right after the president publicly admitted that he had already received the bill.
– When this bill reaches me, it will be fully analyzed from the constitutional point of view, both substantive and procedural, but this will be the only aspect in which we will assess it, he announced then.
He added that “the issue that the president can and should consider is the issue of the compliance of the government’s actions with the constitution and the parliament in connection with the budget, i.e. the issue of the compliance of the budget itself with the constitution, as well as the procedure in which the budget will be adopted.”
Piotr Ćwik, deputy head of the Chancellery of the President, admitted in a conversation with the media that “the legislative path will be examined – because the president is examining it in this respect – and the president will sign the budget.” He assured that this would take place “without undue delay, within the dates that oblige the president to do so.”
What if the budget law is referred to the Constitutional Tribunal?
If the president refers the budget to the Constitutional Tribunal, the latter will have a maximum of two months to issue a ruling. If the Constitutional Tribunal rules that the budget is inconsistent with the Constitution, the president will be obliged to refuse to sign the budget act. If he finds it consistent with the Constitution, this will oblige the president to sign it.
Sending the budget to the Constitutional Tribunal would delay the president’s signature and the publication of the entire document. In such a situation, the planned raises for officials and teachers, higher funds for oncology will be suspended, and the future of social programs will be questionable.