At a Select Committee hearing today Chris Hipkins confirmed that there are a number of holes in Labour’s education budget, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The Education Minister confirmed today that only the small Ministry support staff pay equity claim is expected to be met within current baselines. This leaves a number of other collective bargaining processes underway without any clear funding available.
“Primary and secondary teachers are currently in pay negotiations for increases of up to 16 per cent, which could cost more than $700 million. We also know there are a range of pay equity claims in the pipeline covering Ministry support staff, teacher aides and ECE teachers and staff.
“There is no funding set aside for the two larger claims which is a huge issue. As we have seen with the TerraNova pay equity deal, the cost of these settlements can be significant, particularly given the teacher aides claim covers more than 22,000 staff.
“We also know that at the rate Auckland is growing, there should have been a much larger allocation of capital funding for Auckland growth.
“The previous Government were taking the Auckland Education Growth Plan through Cabinet, which would have seen funding for Auckland growth dramatically increase. However, the new Government appear to have shelved this plan, as this dramatic increase was nowhere to be seen in the Budget.
“The Minister has also confirmed today Labour’s campaign promise to modernise all school buildings by 2030 has never been properly costed and there is no cost estimate available for it. This is likely to cost billions of dollars.
“It is bizarre that Labour have been in office for more than six months but still haven’t managed to produce a costing for one of their key education commitments. However, this could show that the Minister is looking to backtrack on this policy, given he is now referring to it as a ‘vision statement’ rather than a promise.
“Chris Hipkins also flat out promised to end school donations in the Government’s first Budget, and today he admitted he put up a budget bid which failed to get through.
“Labour have failed to deliver on almost all of their education promises in Budget 2018.
“With the looming large chunks of cash needed for potential pay equity claims and collective bargaining, it is difficult to see how Labour can keep claiming they will deliver their list of manifesto promises.”