Budget 2018: Can new government deliver on education?by Jane Patterson
This week's Budget is a major test for the coalition government - can it deliver on its promises and meet expectations in the big ticket portfolios?
Education is a sprawling portfolio, but vital to New Zealand families and the broader economy.
It is the third largest spending area behind social services and health.
The incoming government wasted no time scrapping the charter school model and launching a review into the entire school system.
In Budget 2017 education received a $1.5 billion boost over four years for schools and early childhood education, along with nearly $400 million of capital funding.
It was the largest increase under the National government and took total operating expenditure to $11.6bn.
Claims of a fiscal hole because of population growth
But ahead of this Budget, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said there was $1bn fiscal hole.
An extra 17,000 places, over and above what had been funded by National, were now needed, he said.
"There's then another $166 million that's required to deal with buildings in a state of disrepair."
That would limit how much the government could spend, Mr Hipkins said.
"We can't do all of that in year one so the extra funding we need over the next four years, there'll be some instalments in the Budget ... then in future Budgets, we're going to have to fill the whole of that hole."
Budget 2017 documents showed primary and secondary school rolls were predicted to jump to about 817,000 students in 2021 - an increase of 22,000 from last year.
Former minister Nikki Kaye said National was not sitting on its hands.
"We spent hundreds of millions of dollars future proofing for growth, we had plans to change the system ... the facts don't add up in terms of our history versus Labour."
With Cabinet office approval she has released the Cabinet paper detailing the Auckland Growth plan, that was not made public before National lost office.
Ms Kaye said that outlined a 30-year year plan, including preparations for about 49,000 extra students by 2027, along with detailed geo-spatial mapping to identify growth "hot-spots".
That was just playing catch up, said Mr Hipkins, and was already out of date by the time the new government was sworn-in.
Principals' Federation president Whetu Cormick said new schools had been built to meet demand, but it hadn't always been enough.
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