Are education cuts missing in National’s Fiscal Plan?

National needs to explain why its plans for cuts to school transport have not been announced in its fiscal plan, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.

“Buried in the Pre-election Budget update is a $5m a year cut to school transport, starting in the middle of 2018.

“This is despite school rolls forecast to rise in coming years, meaning per student funding for school transport will drop significantly under National.

“National has not explained where all these cuts will be but officials wrote last year that ‘at this stage, we will not put into effect the majority of efficiencies because ... they are likely to have a higher impact on school communities.’

“The documents also suggest a wider review of school transport policies may be coming and that could mean even bigger cuts, but there’s no indication from National as to how far the cuts will go. The details of these plans are redacted in the official information release.

“Communities deserve to know what cuts National is planning to their school bus services. Bill English needs to front up.

“National has a history of hiding school bus cuts in the lead up to an election. In 2014, the Director of School Transport at the Ministry of Education wrote in an email that he ‘got the instruction to stop and go cold on this until after the election… very hot in the press over the weekend.’

“New Zealanders need to hear the truth from National. What bus routes are they cutting? When? How many families will be affected? Why does none of this appear in their policy page or their Fiscal Plan?

“With National not committing a cent to keep up with inflation and roll growth in education in its Fiscal Plan, and unaccounted cuts to school buses, New Zealanders have every right to question their dodgy sums,” says Chris Hipkins.


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