The annual budget for the regional government of Andalucía will rise to 34.76 billion euros in 2018, an increase of 3.9% on this year's figure.
The annual budget has now climbed back to levels last seen in 2009. In that year the global financial crisis forced Madrid and Brussels to impose spending caps on the Spanish regions for subsequent years.
The spending plans were approved in the Junta de Andalucía's government cabinet meeting on Tuesday and will now be sent to the regional parliament for debate and approval. As last year, the upbeat mood continues, with the region's GDP expected to grow 2.6% in 2018 and the creation of over 80,000 new jobs.
Andalucía is the first of Spain's regions to present its autonomous budgets for next year. The Seville-based parliament is expected to debate the figures on 25 October, with final approval coming at the end of November, one month ahead of normal.
Faster than France or Germany
“Andalucía is growing faster than the average of Germany and France,” said María Jesús Montero, regional minister for Revenue and Public Administration, who predicted a GDP for the region of 166 billion euros in 2018.
This growth, stimulated partly by an increase in exports of the region's produce, has allowed the Socialist-party-led Junta to lower regional taxes in order to secure the continued support of the centrist Ciudadanos party in parliament, but also to spend more on social welfare and job creation initiatives.
Big increase in health
Eighty per cent of the Junta's budget will go on public service and welfare provision across health, education and social services, among other areas. The regional public health service (SAS) across Andalucía, including Malaga and the Costa del Sol, is to see its biggest budget ever with just over nine billion euros to spend in 2018. This will allow more doctors to be employed, the government said.
In total the regional health ministry will have 9.8 billion euros next year for the SAS and its other work, an increase of 509 million (5%) on last year.