It's Budget Day, and at 2pm this afternoon, Bill English will present his fourth Budget to Parliament and to New Zealand.
We already have a pretty good idea of what's in this year's Budget; zero nett new spending, and a return to a surplus in the 2014-15 financial year. But in this morning's Dom-Post, Vernon Small reckons that the government might have a sweetener to help the medicine go down:
Had the needs of spin control not dictated the early release of the bad news, the headlines today would have been full of Bill English socking students, smokers and the sick.But with those well signalled, the Government will surely have saved at least one major positive surprise for Budget day.So what would qualify?Not the forecast surplus in 2014-15.That is so well known it has become an old friend, although a significant number – say, more than $1.5 billion – could be worth crowing about.What about a surplus – a very slim one – a year earlier in 2013-14? Or at the worst, a wafer-thin deficit?Mr English did not address the question directly yesterday, but emphasised there would be as much focus on income as there was spending.Mr Key was coy about it on Monday too, hinting that the outcomes leading up to 2014-15 could be one of the (happy?) surprises.
By midway through this afternoon, we'll know if that prediction comes true. We've structured opur day so that we'll be in front of the telly this afternoon, with the laptop on the coffee table. You'll get live, as-it-happens Budget blogging right here at Keeping Stock, including coverage of the always-robust Budget Debate which follows.