More funds in Budget for special education
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to announce major Budget funding tomorrow to boost special education.
And the Green Party is expected to announce an element of extra funding for the Department of Conservation.
Before the election, Labour promised an extra $6 billion in education over the next four years.
Ardern is going to a summit in Auckland, part of a review of the education sector.
Special education, now termed “learning support”, covers students with severe disabilities as well as those in need of services such as speech therapists and behavioural psychologists.
Special Education Principals’ Association president Judith Nel said she hoped any announcement would address the need for more training and well as immediate resources.
“We need far more professionals and resource to go into people at the coalface,” she said.
The increase was not part of the 100-days plan already accounted for in the Government’s books so it will have to come out of the discretionary operating allowance, signalled in December to be about $2.6b for this Budget, although that is likely to be revised upwards on Budget day.
But the allowances also have to fund public sector wage increases.
The education sector, with an annual $3.7b wage bill, will be competing for that spare dollar.
In an interview with the Weekend Herald, Ardern said her first Budget as Prime Minister had been no different to any other in terms of spending.
“As with every other Budget, the ambition outstrips the available resources by quite some margin.”
She repeated Labour’s recurring theme of National having “underinvested”. “But the primary focus isn’t the debate over what happened. It is just getting on with it. That’s what I know voters need to see from us. ”
Conservation Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage will make her announcement at a native bush reserve in Wellington. A significant increase in DoC funding was negotiated by the Greens in their confidence and supply agreement with Labour.