Opinion: Much in Budget for Dunedin

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One of my earliest political memories is listening to the radio as budgets were being read, with parents eager to hear if taxes would be raised on petrol or cigarettes, or what changes might be made to Family Assistance Tax Credits.

Dad would often head to the service station to fill the car in case petrol prices rose.

Budgets these days are more perfunctory affairs. Many of the significant decisions are announced prior to budget day and it is easy to forget the many parts to it.

Budget 2017 had so many announcements that it is easy to overlook the many positive initiatives that will assist Dunedin people.

The $392million for new schools and classrooms will ensure modern learning environments for our children. One of our oldest primary schools, Kaikorai Primary, has received $6.7millon for its upgrade. This is on top of $37million earmarked for Otago schools last year.

Our commitment to more police was confirmed in the budget and police have announced 37 more sworn officers for the Southern district.

The University of Otago has been a significant beneficiary of the increases in contestable science and innovation funding and I’m confident a decent slice of the extra $203million in contestable science funding will head south on top of the increased subsidy rates for Dunedin students and the Performance Based Research Fund boost totalling $132million.

The Family Incomes package will be a welcome boost to low income families, with changes to tax thresholds, Working for Families and accommodation supports providing much needed support to Dunedin families who struggle to get ahead. And there is place-holder funding of $300million for the redevelopment of Dunedin Hospital.

More may be required depending on the outcome of the work that is being undertaken presently, but I have every confidence once the business case is finalised the funds will be made available to deliver the best solution for the Dunedin community.

Having the ability to make these funding decisions is only possible when the economy is strong.

Surpluses of $2.9 billion, rising to $7 billion and forecast job growth of 215,000 means we can invest in families, in infrastructure and in public services.

That’s what Dunedin residents expect a good government to provide and thanks to their efforts that’s what Budget 2017 delivers.

By Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse