The 2018 Budget has promised to be one based on health, education, and housing with few surprises.
Source: 1 NEWS
Labelled, 'Foundations for the Future', Finance Minister Grant Robertson said Budget 2018 would pump funding into the critical public services, giving them "serious overdue investments".
"We cannot fix all the problems we face in one Budget," Mr Robertson said today in Wellington.
"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 health sector was allocated an additional $3.2 billion boost over the next four years, with an extra $850 million in new capital, which includes $750 million to "tackle" urgent building issues in hospitals.
As per the coalition agreement with New Zealand First, free doctors visits have been extended to those under 14.
Mr Robertson said this would mean 56,000 children would be covered under the new policy.
Budget 2018 also includes an extension of "very low" GP visits to Community Service card holders, and allocates the card to all Housing NZ tenants, Kiwis who receive an accommodation supplement or other rent subsidies based on income.
"This will make going to the GP cheaper by up to $30 for 540,000 people eligible for the Community Services Card."
It comes amid criticism of the Labour Party's failure to meet its election promise to implement cheaper GP visits for all New Zealanders by July 1.
Minister of Health David Clark previously told TVNZ1's Q+A this would need to be "phased" in due to issues such as infrastructure requirements of hospitals.
Extra funding also goes to elective surgery, maternity services, air ambulances and the National Bowel Screening Programme.
The government has increased operating funds for education by $1.6 billion to increase teacher numbers by 1,500 and to increase teacher-aide funding.
The boost is set to address the strain put on the education sector due to population increases.
Capital funding has also risen in order to build new schools and classrooms.
Early childhood has increased by $590.2 million, and $284m has gone to Learning Support, intending to "allow every child with special education needs and learning difficulties to better participate in school life".
Housing was allocated $634 million in operating funds to increase housing by 6,000 homes over the next four years, to provide more transitional housing "and help for the homeless and offer grants for insulation and heating".
KiwiBuild was previously given $2.1 billion in the government's mini-Budget.
In a pre-Budget announcement, $100 million was given to tackling homelessness.
$100 million has been put into a Green Investment Fund "to help our economy's transition".
Budget 2018 also puts $1 billion into business innovation, through a research and development incentive, and Mr Robertson said the $1b per year Provincial Growth Fund would support and grow regions.
Source: 1 NEWS