NSW budget to return to surplus sooner

Just two months into the job, Treasurer Andrew Constance is set to announce NSW’s finances are heading toward surplus earlier than previously expected.


It is understood Tuesday’s budget, which is the last to be delivered by the Baird government before next year’s March election, will predict a surplus by 2015/16.

That’s one year earlier than forecast by former treasurer and now premier Mike Baird six months ago.

Mr Constance is expected to deliver the good news in his first budget on Tuesday, which will mark the start of the Baird government’s pitch to voters before next year’s March election.

“We have a state economy that is going gangbusters, driven by our focus on housing and jobs,” he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

Borrowing a phrase synonymous with US politics, Mr Constance said his “Super Tuesday” budget would focus on infrastructure, with more than $60 billion going toward roads, rail and hospitals over four years.

But Opposition Leader John Robertson dismissed the announcement, saying NSW governments had always spent about $60 billion on infrastructure each budget.

Meanwhile, the treasurer acknowledged the state’s finances had been affected by cuts in federal funding and said there would be “challenges” in health beyond the forward estimates.

It is understood an Abbott government decision to deliver a $703 million payment for the Pacific Highway upgrade this financial year is set to affect the 2014/15 bottom line, leaving it further in deficit.

Mr Robertson expects the budget to be “built on cuts”, despite “record revenue” from stamp duty and speed cameras.

“Mike Baird as treasurer has shown that when it comes to cutting, he can cut with the best of them with the deep cuts that we’ve seen for the last three years,” Mr Robertson said.

The treasurer is expected to spruik the government’s plan to raise $20 billion from the sale of NSW’s electricity assets in his budget speech.