NSW budget: a booming state spends its war chest

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Rather than build a larger surplus to prepare for any economic downturn, the 2015-16 NSW budget boasts five areas of record spending, with infrastructure spending estimated to average $10.3 billion over the next four years.

Flush with funds from the longest housing boom in a generation and the nation’s most buoyant economy, the NSW government has fast forwarded $591 million in capital spending, while committing to record four-year spending in infrastructure, health and education.

The 2015-16 budget, announced by new Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian today, promises four years of surpluses in excess of $2 billion each year, with an expected surplus in the coming financial year of $2.6 billion. The surplus doesn’t include the impact of the partial lease of electricity assets and the loss of dividend revenues.

Bringing forward the spending is designed to ensure projects are shovel-ready when the lease proceeds arrive, and includes fast tracking of a second rail link under the harbour, and a new high-profile rail station at the multi-billion-dollar Barangaroo project, which includes a new casino for Mr Packer’s Crown group.

Faced with booming population growth as workers migrate back from the mining states, the Treasurer also announced the government would spend $7 million on a crack planning team to halve the time it takes to assess significant programs.

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