Budget 2008: Key points

Key points from today's budget:

* The Government commits $4.8 billion in 2008/09, rising to $7b in 2011/12 in operating spending and revenue initiatives and $1.9b in new capital spending between 2008/09 and 2011/12;

* Operating balance expected to decline over the forecast period from 4.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007 to 1.3 percent of GDP in 2011/12, reflecting the impact of policy initiatives and the weakening economy;

* Growth to March 2009 expected to bottom out at 1.5 percent before going to 2.3 percent in 2010 and 3.2 percent in 2011;

* A three-year programme of personal tax cuts, starting from October 1 this year, costing $10.6b. Once fully implemented, individuals working full time will get tax cuts of between $22 to $55 a week.

* New Zealand Superannuation maintained at 66 percent of the net average wage and the tax cuts to add $45.88 for a married couple and $23.84 for a single superannuitant living alone to the pension.

* Inflation adjustments to Working for Families entitlements to be brought forward from April 1 next year to October 1 this year;

* Some $3b over four years, $750 million per year, for health services. This includes an inflationary adjustment of $2b to district health boards to cover the increased costs for goods and services and population increases;

* $325m in the budget, as part of more than $500m, to improve high speed broadband in urban areas and extend its reach into regions;

* $1.8b over five years -- $619m in budget 2008 -- for teachers' wage settlements. Plus money ($182m in operational funding and $33.5m in capital funding) over four years to fund an extra 762 teachers to reduce class sizes for new entrants to one teacher per 15 students;

* $690m for the buy-back of Toll -- the previously announced $665m purchase price plus $25m to cover the costs of lease arrangements and staff secondments;

* $180m in operating funding and $9.5m in capital funding for the third and final tranche (332 sworn staff and 90 non-sworn staff) of the 1000 extra cops and 250 non-sworn police promised at the last election.

* The budget also put a figure on the New Zealand First-gained free off-peak travel for Supergold Card holders -- $72m over four years.


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