Victoria Loosens Purse-Strings in State Budget
6 May 2014 at 4:56 pm
The Victorian Government has delivered a big spending Budget on infrastructure and job creation, as well as a surplus of $1.3 billion in 2014-15 – offering a mixed bag for the Not for Profit sector.
As part of the Budget, the Government will cut the state’s payroll tax rate to 4.85 per cent – affecting 39,000 business and saving those businesses more than $234 million over four years.
Victoria’s social services peak body, Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), says it’s pleased to see that the Victorian Government has “loosened the purse-strings” with a Budget that aims to turn around the state’s unemployment rate.
“Today’s big-spending state budget will help create jobs in Victoria’s sluggish economy, helping to reduce the harm of rising unemployment in the State,” VCOSS Chief Executive Officer Emma King said.
“In this election year, it is pleasing to see that the Victorian Government has loosened the purse-strings to unleash the public spending required to support employment growth and turnaround Victoria’s unemployment rate.
“This Budget delivers a range of big infrastructure programs that will create jobs and drive the economy, but there is more work to do to outline long-term strategy so all Victorians can share in the opportunities of living in a prosperous society. The forecast surplus in the coming year shows there is room to build on this Budget and invest in the essential services that help people overcome disadvantage.
“This Budget supports the view that high public spending is the correct antidote to a slow economy. We agree. We need to build on these commitments to invest in the service required to enable every Victorian to participate in our community, building a Victoria without poverty.”
Education and Early Childhood
The Treasurer Michael O’Brien told Parliament that “the budget delivers an additional $1.6 billion over five years to deliver high-quality education, in addition to state funding growth of $1.2 billion. This funding boost contributes to the Coalition Government’s commitment to providing $5.4 billion in additional funding over six years.”
“VCOSS welcomes investment in early childhood services, the construction of new schools and a significant investment in support for students with disabilities,” King said.
“However, we are concerned at large reductions in expenditure on student support services in the coming year, and a significant fall in higher education and skills, with projected falls in VET student numbers.
“Next year, there is no replacement for the loss of the Education Maintenance Allowance, meaning over 200,000 Victorian students will start school without the current levels of assistance to buy books, uniforms and the technology they need.”
The Victorian Coalition Government will spend almost $100 million over the next four years to boost services for people with a mental illness as part of the 2014-15 State Budget.
In addition,the State Treasurer told Parliament that the Government would allocate another $121 million for additional individual support packages for Victorians with a disability.
The budget also provides $25 million over three years to establish the headquarters of the National Disability Insurance Agency in Geelong, creating 300 jobs.
“This budget funds diversion responses for young people at risk of entering the youth justice system at a cost of $17 million and allocates $34.9 million over four years to address the harms of ice and other drugs in the community,” Treasurer Michael O’Brien said.
“We will also contribute $4.5 million to protect women and children at high risk of family violence, because there is no place – and no excuse – for family violence in our community.”
King said VCOSS was pleased to see investment directed at mental health, and alcohol and drug treatment, which were two pressing health issues facing people experiencing disadvantage.
“We also welcome the health infrastructure investment, particularly in regional areas. Two specific initiatives we are pleased to see in the Budget include the mums and babies withdrawal unit and the additional funding for the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme,” she said.
“This budget has addressed some critical public transport needs to expand the capacity of the rail network,” King said.
“This investment in infrastructure will also provide job opportunities for Victorians. It is disappointing that this has not been accompanied by additional bus services, costing a fraction of the price.”
King said today’s budget announced $447 million to expand Victoria’s prison population.
“VCOSS believes this investment should be redirected to early intervention and prevention to address offending behavior and keep the community safe,” she said.
“A positive initiative is the continued funding of the Youth Support Service, which will help divert young people from the justice system.”
“This Budget commits the Victorian Government to a further four years of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness,” King said.
“We call on the Federal Government to immediately match this in next week’s Federal Budget.
“We recognise the significant investment into refurbishing and maintaining existing public housing stock as part of the Government’s social housing framework. However, we note that it has not been accompanied by investment for growth.”
To view the Treasurer's Budget speech, click here.
|The following VCOSS table shows the change in real expenditure per capita for selected expenditure areas (i.e. the budget figures have been adjusted for population growth and inflation). This table does not include the Early Childhood National Partnership Agreement, or the Commonwealth contribution to the National Partnership on Homelessness.|