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Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas will hand down his sixth state budget today.
Here's what we know so far.
Schools will get a $3 billion spending boostPremier Daniel Andrews has already revealed the Budget will include the biggest spend on the state's school system in history.
$3 billion has been allocated for spending on new schools and infrastructure across the state.
$1.2 billion will go towards 162 projects for schools in critical need of an upgrade, and more than $300 million will be spent on improving special schools.
Architects for the 162 upgrade projects will be appointed in January, and construction is expected to start within 16 months.
A major redevelopment of Melbourne's hospital precinct is plannedThe Budget will only include an initial $10 million to begin planning an overhaul of several hospitals, but the staged project is expected to cost billions of dollars.
There'll be a redevelopment of the ageing Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville, and a new campus of the hospital built in North Melbourne.
The Government has revealed plans to redevelop the existing Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville, and build a new campus in North Melbourne.(ABC News: Sean Warren)The Royal Women's Hospital will also get a new campus in the Arden Renewal Precinct in North Melbourne.
The Government says the redevelopment and new building plans could be the biggest health infrastructure project in Australia.
There will be more than $5 billion for public housingThe Government has already announced a $5.3 billion commitment to build more than 12,000 public housing homes over the next four years.
It says 1,000 of the new dwellings will be set aside for Indigenous Victorians, another 1,000 will be reserved for victims of domestic violence and 2,000 will be provided to people with a mental illness.
The Government argues the spending, which it says will be the largest investment in public housing by an Australian state government, will create 43,000 jobs.
There will be billions for transport infrastructureThe Government has announced $2.2 billion for early works on the first stage of the Suburban Rail Loop, which will run between Cheltenham and Box Hill.
The Budget will also include a $5 billion commitment — which is being matched by the Federal Government — for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
The Melbourne Airport Rail Link gets the go-ahead with matched funding from the Federal Government.(Supplied)The State Government will also match the Federal Government's $2 billion commitment to the Geelong Fast Rail project. New express tracks will be built between Werribee and Laverton to deliver faster trips between Geelong and Melbourne.
There will also be $400 million for stage three of the Shepparton Line Upgrade, which will allow trains to travel at speeds of up to 130 kilometres per hour.
Some tax changes, but no change to stamp dutyMr Pallas has hinted at tax relief but it's not clear what he has in store.
While NSW has announced planned changes to the way property is taxed, the Victorian Treasurer has ruled out any changes to stamp duty for now.
One change the Government has confirmed is a road usage fee of 2.5 cents per kilometre for the drivers of electric and other zero-emission vehicles, and a charge of 2 cents per kilometre for plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles.
Mr Pallas says the revenue will be "more than offset" by $45 million for measures to encourage electric car use, such as new charging stations.
Nearly $870 million for the mental health systemAfter ordering a royal commission into the state's "broken" mental health system, the Government is pledging funding for several of the commission's interim report recommendations.
Funding in today's Budget will include $492 million for 120 mental health beds across Geelong, Epping, Sunshine and Melbourne.
Melbourne's economy took a severe economic blow when the city was shut down during the second wave.(AA Daniel Pockett)The Premier has already announced $152 million will be going to mental health services responding directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There will also be $18.9 million spent on 35 acute treatment beds for public mental health patients in private health services.
The funding package also includes $19.4 million to support mental health clinicians at the Victorian Fixed Threat Assessment Centre.
And there will be $4.4 million to improve culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal Victorians and $3.9 million set aside for asylum seeker mental health support.
Student support on offer after a disrupted 2020With remote learning during lockdown leaving many Victorian students trailing behind in their studies, the Government will allocate $250 million to hire 4,100 tutors across government schools next year.
Another $30 million will be spent to recruit 600 tutors to work with disadvantaged students in Catholic and independent schools.
The Budget will include $1.6 billion for a disability inclusion package that will see a pilot program expanded statewide to better identify and respond to the needs of students with disabilities.
More than 4,000 tutors will be employed to help students who fell behind during the period of remote learning.(ABC News: Freya Michie)The package will include $102.8 million to hire more than 100 extra staff in schools for students with disabilities.
At the youngest years, the Government has offered free kinder for three and four-year-olds in funded programs, at a cost of $169.6 million.
Mr Andrews says the scheme is aimed at making it easier for parents to participate in the workforce, thereby boosting their household incomes and helping with the state's economic recovery.
Families who borrowed laptops and tablets while students were learning from home will get to keep them in an initiative worth $24.5 million.
About 71,000 devices were made available to students.
Vouchers for tourism and support for arts outdoorsIn a bid to encourage more visitors to regional Victoria and get the state's tourism industry back on its feet, the Government will hand out $200 vouchers to those who spend $400 or more on accommodation or tickets to attractions and tours in the regions.
There'll be a limit of 120,000 vouchers, which will be made available from December.
The Budget includes $44.1 million for the Great Ocean Road Coastal Trail.(ABC News: Nicole Mills)The $465 million tourism recovery package will also include upgrades along the Great Ocean Road, marketing support, and infrastructure upgrades in Gippsland.
Another sector hit hard by the pandemic, the arts, will see a more modest spend of $17.2 million to help the industry set up COVID-safe venues for performances over summer.
Most of the funds will go towards big outdoor events in the state's major cultural institutions across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
About $5 million of the package will be earmarked for live music events across regional and peri-urban communities.
Victoria's solar power rebate scheme is getting an extra 42,000 rebates over four years.(Supplied: SunEnergy)Solar panel rebate boost, one-off bill supportThe Government will spend $797 million on an energy package that will include more rebates for Victorians installing solar panels.
There will also be a one-off $250 power bill relief payment for eligible concession-card holders and support for people on low incomes who want to install energy-efficient appliances to save power.
Funding for a national infectious disease research centreThe Victorian Government will make a $155 million contribution towards a $550 million Australian Institute of Infectious Disease, which will be mostly funded by the University of Melbourne and its partners.
Health experts will also be watching closely to see what funding is in store for the state's public health system, which they say entered the pandemic with years of underfunding when compared to its New South Wales counterpart.
Last month, the Public Health Association of Australia's then-chief executive Terry Slevin said today's Budget must contain a "substantial and long-term commitment to public health infrastructure, training and staffing" if it was to address the weaknesses brought into painful focus this year.
Masks are no longer required outdoors as Victorians enjoy more freedoms from coronavirus restrictions.(ABC News: John Graham)Carer and sick leave scheme for casual workersOn the eve of the Budget, the Government unveiled plans for a controversial scheme which would offer paid carer and sick leave to Victorians with casual and insecure work in a range of priority industries.
The Government will commit $5 million to consulting and designing a two-year pilot scheme for the project, but aims to eventually fund the leave through a levy on industry.
The Federal Government, Opposition and business groups argue businesses cannot bear another tax and the arrangement undermines the principle of casual workers being paid 25 per cent loading as compensation for not receiving sick leave.
Many CBD buildings were left empty as the second wave of the pandemic reached its peak.(ABC News: John Graham)Incentives to lure global companies to VictoriaThe Budget will also include $80 million for a range of incentives, which could include tax breaks and handouts, to encourage big international companies to set up shop in Victoria.
Mr Pallas told the ABC he expected the policy would create nearly 2,000 high-end jobs.
"We recognise that we're not through the worst of the economic event at the moment," Mr Pallas said.
The Budget will be $23 billion in the redCOVID-19 has battered the state's economy. Some 290,000 jobs had disappeared from Victoria by the end of September. And the Government has spent $13 billion on its response to coronavirus and on programs to support business and the community through the pandemic.
This will be reflected in a deficit of $23.3 billion in 2020-21.
The Government is projecting a deficit of $13.1 billion for 21-22 and a deficit of $6.7 billion the following year.
By the end of September, about 290,000 jobs had been lost due to the pandemic.(ABC News: Ron Ekkel)The Government is borrowing up bigEven before coronavirus hit, the state's net debt was on track to climb above $50 billion by 2022-23 as the Government borrowed to fund transport infrastructure such as the North East Link.
Now the Government plans to increase its borrowings, partly to fund the projects outlined above, which it hopes will create jobs and stimulate the state's economic recovery.
Net debt will reach $86 billion this year before soaring to about $155 billion in 2023-24.
Mr Pallas has defended the Government's borrowing, telling the ABC's state political reporter Richard Willingham record-low interest rates make it a good time to borrow, and pointing to Victoria being one of 10 sub-sovereign jurisdictions in the world with a Triple-A credit rating.
No major cuts to the public serviceAt a time when costs are ballooning elsewhere, the Government has moved to assure public sector workers it won't use large departmental cuts to make up the difference.
The public sector wage bill has grown significantly under the Victorian Labor Government and is one of the biggest items in the Budget.
But Mr Pallas said the Government wouldn't be "rolling out wholesale changes", with its focus remaining on providing the services the community needed as it recovered from the pandemic.
"Therefore there is no great value from a base review perspective of having wholesale reductions at this time," he said.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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