Grant Robertson’s first Budget turned out to be a middle-of-the-road mix — spreading billions across health and housing but keeping business onside with a comfortable surplus and debt forecast.
More than 500,000 people will get cheaper doctors’ visits through Community Services cards and an extension of free GP visits to 13-year-olds. District health boards get $2.2b, including $750m for hospital upgrades and rebuilds, and community midwives get an 8.9% pay increase.
Each year, 1600 more state houses will be built at a cost of more than $4b, but Treasury has halved its forecast for the flagship Kiwi Build programme.
Principals were disappointed in their 1.6% increase in schools’ operating grants, despite winning $ 395m for new schools and classrooms and $70m extra for more teachers. There will be 920 more police officers on the beat plus pop-up prison cells for the rising jail population. Robertson has squirrelled away most of the Government’s rising tax take, creating a $3.7b surplus.