The NSW State Budget 2016 – the year of the prisoner
After a recent spike in public school enrollments in the state, the NSW government has decided to commit $1 billion dollars to create 1100 new classrooms.
Allocating $146 million over the next four years, Premier Mike Baird has promised to raise the amount of Syrian refugee intakes.
With the hope of preparing refugees to enter Australian society ready and equipped with the necessary English and literacy skills, the funding will also go to “cultural transition programs”.
Women fleeing domestic violence
With a dramatic increase in domestic violence spending, $300 million will be used to expand the Safer Pathway program to include 19 more houses.
From the $300 million, $43 million will be used to for women and children escaping situations of domestic violence. This will hopefully provide more emergency accommodation.
A massive $1.4 billion will be spent to start the new Metro City and Southwest. And $1.3 billion to build new stations for Metro Northwest.
Over the next four years, prison populations are expected to grow. In preparation for this, the state government will be providing $3.8 billion to build 7,000 new beds in the prison system.This will include 160 new beds at South Coast Correctional in Nowra, 130 new beds at Berrima, and the refurbishment of a Wollongong halfway house into a small goal.
Police forecasts predict random breath tests will increase an extra 700,000 to 6.5 million tests in the coming year.
In the 467-page budget document, the environment only received two mentions.
“$1.4 million for renewable energy programs in a state that lags all but Queensland in the share of clean energy in the electricity sector. The cost of the Solar Bonus Scheme that bolstered solar panel demand shrinks to $109 million in 2016-17 from the $202 million last year.”
Previous forecasts had expected the budget to deliver a surplus of $2.5 billion, but mostly due to the privatisation of the state’s powers and poles electrical infrastructure, the budget has surprised many by delivering an extra $900 million, totalling $3.4 billion in surplus.
Announced a few days ago, the state’s net debt is the second smallest in the country, only second to Tasmania. $663 million in net debt translates into 0.1 per cent of gross state product.
The large reduction in state debt and the surprised increase in budget surplus can also be attributed to the state’s policy on stamp duty revenue. 1 in 4 tax dollars from the NSW state government comes from stamp duty fees. When the housing market is growing and the value of properties is increasing, the state government will continue to benefit, but if the bubble bursts and the housing market crashes, the state government aren’t in a strong position financially speaking.