Labour has released a budget that delivers a huge funding boost for health, significantly increases education spending and pays for an extra 1000 police.
It is a budget the party plans to present if it wins the election although it would first have to run it past its coalition partners which would have their own priorities.
Health would be given $8 billion more than the Government intends putting in over the next four years.
Education would get $4b more and there would be $43 million for the extra 1000 police.
There is about $2b a year for housing and community development to meet the promise of 100,000 affordable homes in 10 years.
Despite the big spending, the budget forecasts surpluses through to 2021-22 and continuing debt repayment.
It scraps the tax cuts in the Government’s families package and there is no mention of benefit increases.
Labour would set up a tax working group mandated to create “a better balanced tax system”.
Infrastructure plans include beginning the construction of a light rail network in Auckland and commuter rail in Christchurch.
Research and development tax credits would be increased.
The budget sets a target of reducing unemployment to a level that’s “among the lowest in the OECD”.
As previously announced, a Labour-led government would immediately resume contributions to the NZ Super Fund with $500,000 in the first year rising to $2.5b in 2021-22.
The party is pledging to keep the retirement age at 65.
Labour leader Andrew Little said setting a budget is about priorities, and Labour’s priorities are different to National’s.
“Labour’s fiscal plan prioritises new investment in housing, health, education and infrastructure,” he said.
“We have prioritised these things over tax cuts.”
Finance spokesman Grant Robertson said the budget was about rebuilding core public services and reducing inequality and poverty.
“The last nine years have seen a systematic under-funding of core public and social services by the National government.”
Mr Little said there was fiscal headroom available to spend more on housing, health, education and infrastructure. National had allowed a social deficit to build up and created artificial surpluses by cutting public services.
Labour’s big ticket items include.
<2009>$1.3b a year on its families package, including major increases to Working for Families
<2009>$8b more into health over four years
<2009>$1b more in education, including $270 million a year for its policy of three-years free tertiary education or training.
<2009>$10b over four years for unannounced policies (and those of its support partners).
Labour had its fiscal plan assessed by Berl to ensure it was consistent with the fiscal responsibility rules it signed up to with the Green Party, which require it to deliver a sustainable surplus, to reduce net Crown debt to 20% of GDP within five years of taking office, and prioritising investments that are important for the future of New Zealand, such as contributions to the Super Fund. NZN