A leading business group is lobbying the ACT government to reduce costs in schools and hospitals to rein in Canberra's ''gold-plated'' services as Chief Minister Katy Gallagher employs specialist staff to find savings in health spending so it does not one day consume the territory's entire budget. In a pre-budget submission, the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry questioned why hospitals were 10 to 15 per cent more costly than those in NSW and Victoria, and asked why the government had spent $18,270 a year on each government school student, 30 per cent higher than in neighbouring NSW, based on latest figures. ''The ACT government needs to apply a business-like discipline to all of its activities,'' said the submission from the chamber's chief executive, Andrew Blyth. Mr Blyth said the chamber wanted to see the government's expenditure benchmarked against other jurisdictions and private providers. He used past annual Productivity Commission reports to highlight the ACT was often spending more money proportionately in education and health. Fresh report cards by the commission will be released in stages this week, starting with education and training on Tuesday. The chamber's submission argued education costs should be lower in the ACT because NSW had more regional, remote, indigenous and low-socio-economic students. ''The ACT would struggle to justify the largesse shown towards its government schools with claims that it buys outstanding student outcomes, given the strong family advantages that most Canberra students start with - they have the most educated and highly skilled parents of any jurisdiction,'' the chamber said. While NAPLAN student outcomes were ''a little disappointing'' relatively, it said, results showed the ACT had been the highest performing jurisdiction in Australia every year since 2008. Ms Gallagher said the chamber's argument was oversimplified and taxpayers were getting value for money. ''Mr Blyth creates the perception that you can just cut and there will be no [negative] impacts,'' she said. ''He wants more money to go into business.'' But the government was in the midst of finding savings with at least three staff being recruited across Treasury and the Health Directorate solely to investigate savings, mostly in the health budget, in the coming year. They would be employed as senior officer A or B level, giving them each a salary of $100,000 to $120,000. She said the need to find savings was not an emergency, that these staff would not have dollar targets. They would be given free rein to highlight ways money could be saved. The biggest economic challenge for the government was the cost of running hospitals and health services, which had been growing at 7 per cent a year for the past decade. The yearly bill is about $1.3 billion a year and accounts for almost a third of the total budget. ''That's unsustainable,'' Ms Gallagher said. ''You can't grow your health budget that rapidly.'' While Mr Blyth argued it would be a sad indicator of the quality of life in Canberra if the territory needed to pay health professionals more to take up positions, Ms Gallagher confirmed that it was the case. She said the ACT traditionally had paid more to attract medical staff from bigger cities and that NSW and Victoria had greater economies of scale because they were much bigger. Ms Gallagher said the territory was paying more to retain certain surgical sub-specialties - in areas such as cardio-thoracic and neurosurgery services - to reduce the need for patients to travel to Sydney. She conceded the community might need to decide which highly specialised medical services were needed most in the continuing debate about where to best spend money. In education, the territory was locked into a set funding amount because of its Gonski agreement with the federal government, which meant it was forced to stop the growth of costs rather than find where it could cut. Adding to costs across the directorates was the high price of superannuation in the territory public service. ''This inflates employee costs from 7 to 15 per cent more,'' Ms Gallagher said. Also, accounting differences sometimes skewed the comparison between the ACT and some states, she said. Unlike the territory, larger states such as NSW and Victoria did not count their departmental teaching, training and research services in cost data.