I have just completed and submitted my views re what should be done about the Qld budget in the People’s Budget Planner.
The planner allows you to play with various ways of reducing the state budget using a mix of various tax increases, service cuts and asset sales alternatives. If you get below the debt budget target it also allows you to spend the interest savings amongst a range of spending alternatives.
The government obviously hopes that playing with the budget planner will encourage people to support asset sales as a better way to bring the budget back to a sustainable level compared with cutting services or, shock horror, tax increases.
The planner does have some serious limitations. For example, what you get when you click on more details is fairly skimpy. For example, in the case of selling the ports business there is no indication of how much revenue will be lost and/or what effect this will have on costs to port users. The details are a slightly extended explanation, what the sale will yield and a few examples of where this has already been done in Australia.
When it came to spending the interest saving there was nothing to give a feel for how much was already being spent in an area. For example, if you allocated 10% of the total interest saving to improving bike infrastructure you may have been choosing a doubling of the existing budget or something that was barely worth the effort.
Despite its limitations, the planner is useful for helping people understand some of the budget choices and as a mechanism for allowing people to state their preferences.
The interesting thing from my point of view was that the planner showed that the budget could be balanced by simply increasing a range of taxes and charges while doing nothing else. The planner is worth filling in and submitting if, like me, you think that taxes should be set at levels that allow governments to do their job properly.