Dutch want gov't budget surplus to be spent on salaries, housing

Any money left over in the government's budget should first be spent on raising the salaries of people in the public sector, addressing the housing shortage and getting more police officers on the street, according to a poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of NOS for Budget Day 2019. Only once all that is done, should budget surpluses be used to pay off State debt, the respondents said.

52 percent of Dutch think that the billions of euros surplus in the government budget must go towards increasing the salaries of people who work for the police, in health care, and in education. 36 percent said that money should be used to build more homes, and the same percentage want to use that money to increase the number of police officers. And 32 percent said that money should be used to pay off State debts.

Spending the budget surplus on Defense (11%), building more wind turbines (9%), building an airport at sea (6%), and building roads (6%) were the least popular options. Dutch voters are also not much in favor of a plan to borrow money to stimulate the economy - 29 percent are for, 45 percent against. 

When asked about the most urgent issues the government should give priority to, the situation in healthcare came out on top. Nearly 60 percent of respondents had healthcare in their three most important topics. Elderly care came in a distant second place. The housing market is increasingly on Dutch people's minds. Last year 14 percent mentioned it as a topic that needs government priority, this year 27 percent did so. Concerns about education and climate change are also on the rise, especially among highly educated people. Compared to last year, immigration and integration, and Defense were given much less priority. 

The announced measures against climate change can count on varying amounts of support. A massive 64 percent of Dutch are for an extra CO2 tax on companies, 51 percent are for closing the coal power plants in 2030, and 42 percent are for increasing tax on diesel. Dutch opinion is split on kilometer road tax from 2026 (35% for, 34% against) and higher gas tax combined with lower electricity tax (33% for, 34% against). Only selling electric cars from 2030 can count on the least support - 52 percent of respondents are against this measure, and only 20 percent support it. 

63 percent of Dutch believe that climate measures will cost them personally a lot of money. Voters for populist parties PVV and FvD are most negative about this.

Dutch are also divided on what measures should be taken to reduce nitrogen emissions.. Reducing the maximum speed limit on highways was mentioned most often, by 30 percent of respondents, followed by a reduction of livestock (27%), less aviation (25%) and less industry (18%).

Almost half of Dutch think that the Netherlands is going in the wrong direction. This group has been growing steadily over the past years. The elderly and people with a low level of education are particularly pessimistic. One in three Dutch think that the Netherlands is doing better and better. These are mainly people who indicate that the can manage well with their income. 

Dutch voters gave the Rutte III government a score of 5.5, still below the 5.7 score it got around the municipal elections last year, but well above the 4.9 the government received in March. Confidence in politics, the government and the Prime Minister increased compared to last year, especially for the Prime Minister. Last year Mark Rutte had the confidence of 37 percent of voters, this year it's 48 percent. Despite this confidence boost, nearly half of Dutch are against Rutte again being Prime Minister if his VVD wins the next parliamentary election. Only a quarter think he should go on for a fourth term.