In yesterday’s state budget, the NSW Government showed that it is willing to spend even more school investment and hospital funding over the next few years.
According to the government, a surplus of $3.9 billion is projected for 2017-18, with average surpluses of $1.6 billion over the four years to 2021-22.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says this year’s budget "delivers the benefits of our strong financial management to the people of NSW. We are easing the pressure on families today, and building the schools, hospitals and transport connections to support communities into the future.”
NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet says that “despite revenue pressures, we have kept expenses under control, pursued bold reform, and made better use of our resources”.
Among a range of budget measures that will help with the cost of living and lay the foundations for new communities, this year’s Budget builds further on last year’s unprecedented infrastructure program, with a record $87.2 billion pipeline over four years.
To help support better education outcomes, a $6 billion investment over four years will fund more than 170 new and upgraded schools, and a $500 million commitment over five years to deliver air conditioning so students and teachers can beat the heat.
Health is also in line for another record boost, with $8 billion over four years to fund 40 new and upgraded hospitals across NSW, including $740 million to transform Liverpool Hospital into what is being called a “world-leading health and academic precinct".
There is funding to get major road and public transport projects over the finish line, including WestConnex, NorthConnex, the Sydney Metro, and continuing development of the light rail in Sydney, Newcastle and Parramatta; funding to get moving on the F6 extension and Sydney Gateway; and $3 billion to begin the Metro West.
In regional NSW, the Government will establish the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund that will provide $4.2 billion of investment in regional NSW on state-building projects – continuing the legacy of the Snowy Hydro project for what the NSW premier says will be for “ generations to come”.
As well as funding the infrastructure, the Budget also takes what is being called an “unprecedented step” to secure NSW’s finances for future generations, by establishing the NSW Generations Fund – a sovereign wealth fund with $3 billion in seed funding, to offset debt and guard against long-term budgetary pressures.
The NSW Generations Fund say that it will also deliver for communities through the My Community Dividend program, which puts up to half of the returns from the Fund into the hands of local communities, empowering citizens to nominate and vote on projects to make their neighbourhoods better places to live.