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Regions benefit with budget boosts to health, education

The NSW government will redirect education funding to pay for higher teacher salaries as it pledges extra schools and campus upgrades in regional areas.


NSW Deputy Premier and Education Minister Prue Car speaks to media during a press conference whilst visiting Riverstone Public School in Sydney. Image AAP

Support for regional schools and reallocating existing funding towards teacher salaries will be part of big-ticket spending for education in the upcoming NSW budget. 


The Minns Labor government will deliver its first budget on Tuesday, promising to rebuild essential services while battling growing state debt.


The budget will allocate $1.4 billion over four years to upgrade or build public schools across regional NSW. 


Nowra and Thurgoona in Albury will have new primary schools while Medowie, Googong, Bungendore and Jerrabomberra will have new high schools.


Major rebuilds will include Gillieston, Jindabyne and Lennox Head public schools, while schools in Bomaderry, Hunter River, Irrawang, Moruya, Ulladulla, Murwillumbah, Milton, Vincentia, Wollumbin, Murrumbidgee and Yanco will get upgrades.


More than a billion dollars has also been found in savings to fund a historic pay rise for the state's public school teachers.


Bureaucratic and administrative burdens have been slashed and contracts renegotiated to find $1.4 billion in savings needed to fund a wage rise that will lead to NSW teachers becoming some of the best paid in the country.


Premier Chris Minns said Commonwealth funding that previously had to be used in other areas of education due to teacher wage caps would be used for the salary increase.


He said it made sense for that revenue - worth about $12 billion over four years under a state and federal schools agreement - to go towards salaries rather than ancillary projects.


"That's going to attract more people to the profession, we're going to get more school leavers studying education at university and, perhaps most importantly, we'll encourage teachers that are in the profession today to stay," he said. 


The starting salary for NSW teachers will increase from $75,791 to $85,000, while those at the top of the pay scale will go from $113,042 a year to $122,100.


Education Minister Prue Car said budget savings had been found by redirecting funds for programs that left teachers burdened with administrative work, as well as from renegotiating commercial contracts in IT, telephony and travel.


"There are savings to be had from within the system which we can direct back into paying teachers what they are worth," she said.


"It is a responsible and sustainable use of our education budget that goes directly back into the classroom and teachers."


The budget will also include more than $430 million in funding for an extra 500 paramedics in regional, rural and remote NSW.


The additional health workers are expected to help improve ambulance response times for life-threatening conditions and ensure patient outcomes and experiences also improve. 


A NSW parliamentary inquiry heard there were longer ambulance response times in the regions because of a lack of skilled paramedics.


Health Minister Ryan Park said the extra paramedic roles were permanent, full-time positions to be rolled out over four years.


"I fought very long and hard to establish the landmark inquiry into health services in regional and rural NSW and that showed very clearly that when it comes to paramedics, we needed to do some significant investment," he said.


"Today is about laying down that plank, laying down that first marker that will be a significant investment over the next four years."


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