$3.7 billion surplus promised in NSW Budget

THE Baird Government has promised a $3.7 billion budget surplus in 2016-17 as it directs billions of dollars into infrastructure projects on the North Coast.

Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said record investments in schools, hospitals and roads were achieved while keeping the state's debt at almost zero.

The 2015-16 Budget delivered a $3.4 billion surplus, with further surpluses averaging $2 billion each year predicted over the coming four years.

"State funded investment infrastructure will average $12.1 billion a year over the next four years," Ms Berejiklian said.

"At the same time, we are also delivering record expenditure on essential frontline services - with greater investment than ever before in critical areas such as health, education and family and community services."

A $22 billion funding pool has been set aside for health over the coming four years - up $972 million on the 2015-16 budget.

The package includes $75.2 million to continue upgrades to Lismore Base Hospital in 2016-17, as well as $12.1 million in new funding for the Tweed Hospital to expand its emergency department, enhance its wards and build a new multi-level car park.

Another $747,000 has been allocated to Tweed Hospital to continue planning for upgrades, with $2.8 million for Ballina Hospital upgrades.

Grafton Hospital will receive a relatively small infrastructure package - just $121,000 to improve its transport services.

"The NSW Government is serious about investing in our regions to ensure everyone across the state is benefiting from our enviable budget strength," Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said.

A $17 million reserve has been set aside for a new helicopter network providing qualified doctors on every flight from 24-hour bases, including Lismore Base Hospital, as well as buying a fleet of 12 new choppers.

"This budget continues our investment in the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment, with over $75 million to deliver much-needed upgrades which will make a huge difference to the lives of staff, patients and their families," Lismore MP Thomas George said.

North Coast road projects were the region's big ticket items.

The Pacific Hwy upgrade will get $403 million in NSW Government funding next financial year, with a total $1.5 billion investment including the Federal Government's contribution.

The Baird Government has pledged $36 million for the construction of a second Clarence River bridge in Grafton, with a total $177 million state-federal investment committed.

A new prison for Grafton has been promised funds, though the exact amount will not be disclosed until a winning bidder for the construction has been chosen.

About $14.3 billion will be spent on education in 2016-17, an increase of $1.1 billion. Nearly $1 billion extra has been set aside over the next four years for building new classrooms.

"Our fiscal discipline and innovative policies such as asset recycling have allowed us to invest record amounts on infrastructure and services while securing our triple-A credit rating," Ms Berejiklian said.

The Coastal Infrastructure Program includes $6.1 million for Coffs Harbour, while $5 million has been reserved for the Coffs Harbour TAFE project in 2016-17.

More to come

HOW THEY SPENT IT

•             Health - 28%
•             Education - 21%
•             Transport and communication - 13%
•             Social welfare, housing and other community services - 12%
•             Public order and safety - 10%
•             Economic affairs - 2%
•             Other services - 14%



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