Budget 2018: Schools, early childhood centres get small increase

Lester Mason
May 17, 2018

"Budget 2018 makes responsible investments for the future, while delivering a surplus of more than $3 billion and taking a responsible approach to debt reduction".

The government has allocated $85 million of operating funding in the current year to deal with the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, but a looming report will likely spell out a "significant" bill, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

There have been a lot of hints that school buildings will be in for a win too, adding that alot was riding on this Budget for the Finance Minister.

The Government has already delayed some promises and our political editor says there could be more.

The forecasts project operating spending on primary services of $851 million in the year ending June 30, 2018, amounting to 1 percent of core Crown expenses, falling to $620 million by the 2020 year, or 0.6 percent of total spending. We have been able to increase the allowances slightly because economic growth is forecast to be stronger than was expected before the election, by cracking down on tax avoidance, by reprioritising spending to reflect the Coalition Government's priorities and with our more balanced debt track. We are extending very low-priced general practitioner (GP) visits to all Community Services Card holders and extending the Card to all Housing New Zealand tenants and New Zealanders who receive an accommodation supplement or income-related rent subsidy. Under that funding there will be an 8.9% rise for community midwives to bring them into line with hospital midwives.

The budget also includes $67m to extend the national bowel screening programme and $83m to support air ambulance services.

And an extra $1.6 billion for education will go to early childhood education and a boost for students with higher learning needs. The Christchurch schools rebuild programme will get $62m of this money.

The government is also giving police and customs staff resources to combat gangs and organised crime and drug trafficking
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON STUFF The government is also giving police and customs staff resources to combat gangs and organised crime and drug trafficking

The government has come under pressure over the support provided for children requiring extra learning support.

Labour has announced the government would inject NZ$42 billion ($29.03 billion) in capital spending over the next four years, $10 billion more than planned by the previous government. The budget provides $234.4m of new money for both Housing New Zealand and community housing providers. Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Children, will also get an extra $141.6b over four years to ensure more children and young people can get the care they need. It is still unclear whether research and development grants will be scrapped once the incentive is in place. We are supporting and growing our regions through the $1 billion-per-year Provincial Growth Fund and investing $100 million into a Green Investment Fund to help our economy's transition. This year the fund will include $684.2m of operating funding and $315.8m of capital spending.

The government also believes its increase in funding for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will help secure better access to overseas markets for New Zealand exporters. Among those is the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, which has spread across the country and seen 300 farms under surveillance or lockdown.

Asked why the Government doesn't just borrow the difference - which would be hundreds of millions of dollars - Robertson said it's important the Government leaves itself with a bit more fiscal headroom.

Spending on Corrections goes over $1 billion for the first time and it gets funding for pop-up prison units to house an extra 600 prisoners.

"We can't fix every problem in one Budget", Robertson said in Parliament on Wednesday.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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