Italy's contentious budget wins government's confidence vote

Forza Italia party's lawmakers protest wearing blue vest reading "stop taxes" and "hands off non-profit", referring to increasing taxes on non-profit sector workers, before the vote of confidence on the budget law at the Italian lower chamber in Rome, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 . (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via AP)
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte sips coffee during the vote of confidence on the budget law at the Italian lower chamber in Rome, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 . (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via AP)
Forza Italia party's lawmakers protest wearing blue vest reading "stop taxes" and "hands off non-profit", referring to increasing taxes on non-profit sector workers, before the vote of confidence on the budget law at the Italian lower chamber in Rome, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 . (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via AP)
Former lower chamber President Laura Boldrini, top right, shows the Constitution to Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, left, and Economy Minister Giovanni Tria to protest during the vote of confidence on the budget law at the Italian lower chamber in Rome, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 . (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA via AP)

ROME — The lower chamber of the Italian Parliament has approved a 2019 national budget that includes funding to realize campaign promises made by leaders of Italy's populist government.

The Chamber of Deputies Saturday night passed the budget law on Saturday night, following the Senate's approval last Sunday.

The government tied support for the budget to a confidence vote to assure the spending package's quick passage to avoid European Union sanctions for excessive debt.

The budget covers the cost of a providing basic income for job-seekers and rolling back unpopular pension reforms. Critics say it lacks investment incentives to revive Italy's sluggish economy.

The European Commission nixed the budget Italy first submitted. The revised version shaved the budget deficit to 2.04 percent of GDP, partly through new taxes, reined-in pension increases and state property sales.

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