Didier Rimbaud: “The wisdom of the Senate is justified”

The only senator from Isère in a presidential majority, Didier Rambo is vice-president of the Finance Committee in the Senate. While many laws relating to the state budget are being debated, he brings, with his dual expertise in finance and local authorities, a unique perspective.

Between the Senate with a majority of LR, a National Assembly with a relative majority in Renaissance and strong blocs of Nupes and RN, how do you judge the parliamentary debates since the beginning of the academic year?

Dr : The unprecedented political situation of the National Assembly and the absence of an absolute majority restore perhaps a more important role for the Senate. It’s a room for balance, not for equivocation. We have spoken much of the wisdom of the Senate in the process of justifying itself. Since the beginning of the five-year term, we have noticed that the government is working to strengthen its role, by passing certain texts in the first reading, such as those related to renewable energies or the Planning Law of the Ministry of the Interior (Lopmi). Perhaps the Senate could influence the somewhat radical position observed in the National Assembly.

This end of the year is a legislative marathon for parliamentarians, with, among other things, the 2023 Finance Bill, which ended up being passed by the National Assembly, with recourse to Article 49-3. What about the parliamentary shuttle?

Dr We are currently beginning to examine it, but it is the government’s preliminary text that is up to us. I have a weakness for thinking that the Senate will vote on the budget. There may be challenges by the majority in the Senate, such as the abolition of CVAE, this corporate value-added contribution, which the President of the Republic wants to abolish within two years. During scrutiny in committee, Senate Budget Rapporteur General Jean-François Huson (LR) indicated that he wanted to delay it by one year. However, it is about restoring the competitiveness of our companies, by lowering this excise tax.

What are the other highlights of the 2023 budget?

Dr It aims to continue protecting the French people and French companies from the shock of inflation and rising energy costs. It also continues to carry out sovereign tasks, for example by providing resources for defence, security and justice, while ensuring compliance with the programming laws that bind us over several years. In Europe, we are the country where inflation is the lowest. In the face of the various criticisms that we can hear or the reactions of companies, I will remember this adage: “When I look at myself, I feel sorry; when I compare myself, I console myself.”

This budget has a deficit of more than 150 billion euros for the fourth year in a row …

Dr Since 1974 we have been voting on deficit budgets. After the health crisis and “whatever the cost” we have an energy crisis. A balance must be found between austerity and fiscal laxity. These are two drifts, for which the opposition of the radical left and right can blame us, but we must not fall into them. By voting on the Fiscal Programming Act 2022-2027, it is also a signal given to our European partners that we are able to preserve our fiscal resources. The right of the Senate said that they should be reduced by 25 billion euros, but I ask: which of them should be reduced? Between the two positions for which we are being criticized, we must find a balance to continue to defend the purchasing power of the French, while not letting our finances get carried away.

On this budget, you’re the special rapporteur for the “Culture” mission with Senator Vincent Epley. Which consists?

Dr We are in fact responsible for presenting the culture budget, prepared by the Minister, to the Senate. We are supposed to defend it or publish what doesn’t suit us. This is the second year I’ve been doing this. A rise of 7% and, therefore, beyond inflation, continues to accompany the difficulties faced by this sector, such as cinemas that have not yet regained the number of spectators before Covid. Another point to note, the Culture Card will be extended to 4 disciplese. Young people can use this check for 300 euros to attend performances or finance the purchase of musical instruments. The heritage component is also important, in order to ensure the restoration of our built or religious heritage. There will certainly be adjustments made by colleagues and we will see if they are acceptable in terms of the policy line presented in this budget.

Regarding the bill to accelerate the production of renewable energies adopted by the Senate in the first reading, what are the main measures?

DrThe energy crisis we’re going through has dictated the need to speed up this topic, to get out of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. And at the beginning of next year, this law will be supplemented, in particular by the nuclear energy bill, which will now strengthen its primary position in the context of electricity production, especially since this share will increase. At the same time, we need to accelerate the production of renewable energies. In the Senate, there were several points of friction, such as the famous veto of neighboring municipalities, which was transferred to the zoning mechanism that would serve as a reference. We also insist on regional value sharing. With the installation of wind turbines generating tax revenue, it is only natural that the surrounding communities or communes are also the beneficiaries. Another point of friction that has been raised is the construction of wind turbines in the sea more than 40 km from the coast. Technically, there was no further construction, so this modification was rejected. Another important point in the bill is the obligation to install solar panels on car parking shades. The government caused m2, while the Senate deduced the number of parking spaces. From 80 to 400 places, half of them should be covered in shade in the next five years. Of the 400 spaces, parking managers will have three years to do so.

What is the majority that the government will rely on in adopting the text by the National Assembly?

Dr It seems to me that the environmental and socialist political parties are quite sensitive to proposals on the topic of the energy transition. It would be a pity if they put themselves in a position of opposition, because it is a text we must advance.

“We have created a relationship of subordination of local authorities to the state. »

Didier Rimbaud

The President of the Senate has just created a Working Group on Decentralization, of which you are a member. What are the goals?

Dr At the end of the first quarter of 2023, we will be drafting proposals, within the framework of the future decentralization law that has been announced. It will be necessary to have the courage to say a certain number of things in the face of the so-called administrative file: district, department, municipal and municipal. It is necessary to further clarify the terms of reference of each. Some mayors may be inclined to consider that the joint municipality must bring something to their municipality, while the joint municipality is in the service of the whole territory. It is a matter of making them realize that what is good for the area will also be good for their municipality, even if the implementation or service is not in their municipality.

What could it be leading?

Dr With the budget municipalities vote on and the powers they exercise, shouldn’t we move towards elections by direct universal suffrage? The question deserves to be asked and the consultation work must be carried out. Emmanuel Macron also proposed bringing together regional and administrative advisors under a regional advisor’s mandate, an idea launched at the time by Nicolas Sarkozy, then suppressed by François Hollande. Between the territory and the department, there is a need to streamline things. This is only the beginning of reflections and there will be no incarnation before the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.

What do you think about the development of financing local authorities, you who exercised powers at almost all levels: mayor, mayor, district councilor …

Dr It seems to me that we are at a tipping point, obviously linked to the state of our public finances. And because they are not doing a good job, this has repercussions for local communities. I do not hesitate to say this: we have created a relationship of subordination of local authorities to the state. By abolishing the housing tax…which is a good thing, because it restores the purchasing power of the French, or CVAE, the decision-making power of local elected officials is diminished. Even if these revenue losses are compensated, municipalities depend on the development of future government grants.

Are they frustrated as we often hear?

DrNo, I’m turning my neck away from the thought. These famous global operating grants (DGFs) declined between 2009 and 2017. Beginning at the end of Nicolas Sarkozy’s five-year term, the blow came under François Hollande’s five-year term: local authorities lost 14 billion euros. Between 2017 and 2022, we arrested this decline and stabilized successive DGFs. In a stable envelope, it is true that some municipalities gained a little while others lost a little. In the Finance Bill submitted for 2023, for the first time in thirteen years, the total cover of the Fund will increase by 350 million euros. 90% of municipalities should see their allocations increased.

Didier Rimbaud occupies his parliamentary office in Abreu, the center of the department. © Compra
Candidat pour un deuxième mandat de sénateur

Examen et vote des lois, missions de contrôle, auditions, rapports, interpellations du gouvernement lors de questions orales et écrites… Toutes ces missions de parlementaire, Didier Rambaud les remplit depuis 2017, en s’appuyant sur son riche parcours d’élu local. « Je tiens beaucoup à cet ancrage. C’est ce qui explique que nous avons finalement une double vie : du mardi au jeudi à Paris et le reste de la semaine sur le département. J’essaye de consacrer a minima une demie voire une journée complète pour rencontrer des élus locaux lors de rendez-vous spécifiques, et pas seulement lors des événements ou des inaugurations », explique-t-il. En septembre prochain, les sénateurs de l’Isère remettront leur mandat en jeu, comme tous les six ans, la chambre haute étant renouvelée par moitié, tous les trois ans. « Même si j’ignore quel sera le contexte politique à ce moment-là, s’il sera ou non favorable à quelqu’un qui porte les couleurs de la majorité présidentielle, oui je serai probablement candidat, car c’est un beau mandat, où l’on travaille bien, où l’on a beaucoup de recul. Par rapport à l’Assemblée nationale, on subit sûrement moins la pression médiatique, ce qui nous permet de mieux travailler sur le fond. Comme nous sommes élus par les grands électeurs [NDLR : les parlementaires, les conseillers régionaux et départementaux, les délégués des conseils municipaux], il n’y a pas vraiment de temps de campagne spécifique. Je vais donc continuer mon rythme de travail tel que je le fais depuis le premier jour ».      

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