Billions on the line in NSW Budget
IT was one of the most famous broken political promises ever: "Read my lips, no new taxes," said soon-to-be US president George Bush in 1988. But within two years, Americans had to bear a raft of higher taxes.
That history lesson doesn't seem to bother New South Wales Treasurer Dominic Perrottet who has said the State Government won't be raising taxes in today's Budget.
That's despite an infrastructure splurge and a reduction in revenue from stamp duty leading to a rise in debt and a fall in the state's surplus.
"It might provide a short-term sugar hit to plug budget holes - but it burdens families, households and businesses with extra costs and causes long-term pain for the economy," Mr Perrottet wrote in The Daily Telegraph on Thursday.
"Our budget will not introduce a single new tax."
But that doesn't mean the newly re-elected state Coalition government, led by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, won't be splashing the cash.
A cool $18.5 billion is expected to be announced for education in NSW, up more than a billion on last year's figure.
Of that, $600 million will be added to a $6 billion capital spend to build or refurbish 190 schools, and $1.3 billion is earmarked for clearing a maintenance backlog at public schools by 2020.
On the transport front, a further $1 billion will be reserved for road projects in western Sydney, including $100 million on a "smart motorway" between Penrith and Parramatta.
Smart motorways use real-time information to change traffic lights and overhead signs to try to unclog congested roads or if there's an accident.
It will also be announced drivers will be able to access their licence on their smartphones.
Mr Perrottet has flagged he will be looking for the Morrison Government to tip $3 billion into the pot to fund the Sydney Metro West project.
The first $8.3 billion phase of the Sydney Metro opened last month with a line from Tallawong, in the city's Hills District, to Chatswood on the north shore. A second $12.4 billion phase is being built to bring the Metro to the CBD and Bankstown by 2024.
The $10 billion Metro West would be the third leg of the network, providing a faster link between the CBD and Parramatta and taking pressure off the current congested rail lines.
The cash to plough into new roads, rail and tram lines has come from the Government's $34 billion lease of much of the state's electricity network, which has led to a significant boost to the Budget bottom line in recent years.
Last year, the Government predicted a surplus of $3.9 billion. That's expected to fall to $1.4 billion this year as all those promises have to now be paid for. Its debt position is also being affected by the massive commitments it's made to infrastructure spending.
Other commitments made in advance of the Budget include a $15 million boost over five years to efforts to find a cure for spinal cord injury, apparently after a personal intervention by Studio 10 host Kerri-Anne Kennerley who sidled up to Ms Berejiklian at a do they were both at.
But it's also possible there could some stings in the tail of this Budget. After all, the Coalition has just been voted in and they have four years to go in Macquarie St. If they intend to up a toll or two or your train fares, now's the time to do it.