Cuts called in SA budget
South Australia’s State Budget will see the public sector take a hit.
Budget papers released this week contain spending that will see SA's debt rise over the forward estimates to $21.3 billion by 2022-23.
Despite this and a $517 million writedown to GST revenue from this year's Federal Budget, Treasurer Rob Lucas is budgeting for a $94 million surplus in 2019-20.
For the public sector, Mr Lucas says he wants to reduce employee expenses by 1.4 per cent.
The public service headcount increased by around 190 this year, but the Budget includes plans to cut public servant numbers by 1,588 next year.
Mr Lucas says the cuts may not all eventuate.
Even if they do, the public service is set for long-term growth, with 1,375 new teachers needed to cope with increased enrolments in State Government schools.
The Government wants to save around $80 million in 2019-20 across departments — including $12.5 million worth of “operational savings” in education.
It expects to generate close to $120 million from increases to fees, charges and fines, hospital parking fees, an increase to the solid waste levy, and public transport tickets.
For the first time, the Government has allocated funding for a new Women's and Children's Hospital.
The budget includes $550 million as a down payment for the hospital project, to be spent after June 2020.
The SA Government has been wrestling with chronic overspending in the health budget, and has had to bring in administrators to staunch the flow of funds.
The health sector blew its original 2018-19 budget allocation by $238 million, and now Mr Lucas wants to reduce its expenditure by $169 million next year.
If those savings came by reducing the health headcount, it would mean the loss of around 1,140 full-time employees.
Mr Lucas singled out SA Pathology as a target.
“Under existing public sector management there is a capacity to achieve $35 million in savings … we weren't able to achieve the first part of those savings in the first year,” he said, giving SA Pathology another year to meet its efficiency dividend.