Premier Peter Gutwein has billed it as a "budget for our times", and despite the state's finances taking a significant hit due to COVID, there were few surprises.
The 2020-21 state budget has graphically laid bare how badly COVID-19 has smashed apart Tasmania's finances.
Mr Gutwein, in handing down his first budget as both Premier and Treasurer, said the COVID-19 pandemic had been one of the largest shocks to the Tasmanian way of life and the state's economy.
It's driven the budget into an operating deficit of more than $1.1 billion, and will see net debt blow out to a massive $4.38 billion by 2023-24 - or about $8265 for every Tasmanian.
'Jobs, confidence, community'
The budget is aimed at "Rebuilding a Stronger Tasmania", with debt set to fund a massive infrastructure program of more than $5 billion over the next four years, including $1 billion this year.
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Mr Gutwein said this would support about 25,000 jobs and help drive Tasmania's recovery.
"The way to rebuild a stronger and more resilient Tasmania is to invest heavily to support jobs, to regain confidence and to rebuild our economy and our community," he said.
Where's it going?
What's in it for us?
Like with much of the budget, there were no surprises for Northern Tasmania when it came to infrastructure investment. Much of the projects in the 2020-21 budget were already announced in the prior weeks and months, along with carried over funding for projects already underway.
The largest spend was $79.8 million for the Launceston General Hospital with the planned completion of Ward 4K - part of a four-year $102 million commitment - with $15.4 million to open and staff the ward upon completion.
The Northern Regional Prison has also appeared in the budget for the first time, with $4.2 million in 2020-21, $7.8 million in 2021-22 and $32.6 forecast for 2022-23, when works are expected to ramp up - subject to approvals.
Launceston's urban water infrastructure will be upgraded with $41.4 million over four years. There was $24 million for the new Legana Primary School, $33.2 million for the Launceston and Tamar Valley traffic plan and a $5.15 million commitment for Launceston Airport upgrades, part of a $10.3 million project.
Major road and highway works include the long-awaited final sections of the Midland Highway - also over four years - and upgrades of the Tasman Highway at Myrtle Park and the Dorset roads package.
The government put a heavy focus on improving services for disadvantaged Northern Tasmanians. This included $5.6 million to expand Thyne House, also over four years, and $3.6 million over two years for Launceston safe spaces homeless accommodation.
Big boost for health
Health will receive $276 million more this year than it spent in 2019-20, which may help to end a trend of overspending in the department.
The government exceeded its operational health budget for 2019-20 by almost $220 million - spending $2.18 billion, compared to the budgeted $1.96 billion. Now, for 2020-21, it's budgeted $2.46 billion for health.
Over four years, the budget lays out $9.8 billion for health in what's been described as unprecedented resourcing. It represents $1.7 billion more than last year's budget, including a 21 per cent increase in operational expenditure and includes a $391 million capital works program.
Lightening the load for teachers
Tasmania's public schools will receive $10 million under an initiative to reduce the teaching load of primary teachers, allowing for more class planning time, and also to fund six new specialist numeracy teachers and introduce extra teachers from the creative arts, physical education and science industries.
Vulnerable students experiencing trauma, kids who are disengaged and students with disabilities will receive extra funding supports, and all students will be heading on more school excursions with a $1 million shared package available to schools.
Vocational training receives a $13 million boost, with $2 million of that funding set aside for specialist teachers in areas of high demand such as aged care, electro technology, plumbing and nursing.
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