The NSW government’s $4.
2 billion budget promise to help deal with the unprecedented surge in student enrolments is just the beginning, Education Minister Rob Stokes has declared.
The minister hinted there was more to come as he joined Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to put the sell on Tuesday’s budget.
“This is just the beginning,” Mr Stokes told reporters at Sydney’s inner west Croydon Public School on Wednesday.
“Obviously we’ve got a huge challenge ahead of us, but this money shows a real commitment and a real plan towards delivering the extra capacity that we’re going to need to support families and students across NSW.”
The government’s $1.6 billion boost to education infrastructure spending was a centrepiece of Mr Perrottet’s debut budget.
The treasurer devoted a whopping $72.7 billion for state infrastructure over the next four years, after a $4.5 billion surplus was forecast for this financial year.
A significant chunk will go towards the government’s roads and rail projects – including $3.2 billion alone for WestConnex – while $7.7 billion will be spent on hospitals.
While the government described its budget as “the envy of the Western world”, it was criticised for not doing more to address the rising cost of living.
The treasurer on Wednesday defended his handling of the spoils.
“There are a range of measures in the budget in relation to cost of living,” he said.
“Our energy rebates, (which is) $1 billion dollars over four years or our CTP reforms, which will reduce the cost of running a vehicle.”
The government’s $100 sport rebate for parents with school-aged children would also make a real difference.
“We’ll be doing consultation with certain community groups over the next few months because we want to make sure that we have as many sports available for kids to participate in,” he said.
With the state’s books expected to remain comfortably in the black over the next four years, Premier Berejiklian meanwhile urged residents to “watch this space”.
“As you know, major projects don’t just come out of thin air … we’re doing all the homework now,” she said.