Grant Robertson cannot reconcile his pledge to be fiscally responsible with the mile high expectations the Coalition has created.
Despite inheriting a strong economy and Budget surplus the Government has blown most of it already.
We need a U-turn Budget. Cancel the middle class welfare, free tertiary study and Kiwi Build. Scrap Shane Jones' billion dollar slush fund and yes, halt spending $400 million plus buying guns from law-abiding citizens.
There is another $2 billion by cutting government waste. There is enough money to pay teachers properly, increase mental health spending and have a tax cut to reward hard work, the only thing that has ever built the economy.
The housing crisis is a Government failure. RMA reform must be a priority. A programme to cut unnecessary red tape would cost little and pay a huge dividend.
Throwing money at social problems never works. A Budget that incentivises us all to take personal responsibility will have better outcomes. You can spend your money far better than any government.
There is a problem only Government can solve - Auckland's traffic gridlock. A bold infrastructure plan to end the gridlock. Now that is a Budget I would love to see.
• Richard Prebble is a former Act leader and former minister in the Fourth Labour Government.
Thursday's Budget needs to take a far more fundamental leap than anything Grant Robertson and his tripartite coalition have produced so far.
We face an intertwined ecological, economic and social emergency that transcends the notion of archaic business-as-usual budgets.
This Budget should, for a start:
• Remove the fiscal cap of the Budget Responsibility Rules now, not in three or four years' time.
• Initiate a state and community-based social housing programme which builds a minimum 10,000 houses a year for the next five years. Forget KiwiBuild – enable all New Zealanders to access safe, warm and affordable housing as a top priority.
• Pick up the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group and transform our welfare system into one which is fair, effective, respectful and provides people with enough to live on with dignity.
• Put sufficient resourcing into mental health and addictions to enable real and meaningful change across all parts of the sector. People are dying out here.
• Commit major resourcing to research and action within and outside government to investigate and implement meaningful future proofing in the face of the impacts of climate change and associated ecological emergencies.
No government should dare talk about "wellbeing" without seriously taking the survival of our children and their children into account.
• Sue Bradford is a veteran activist and former Green Party MP.
At the rate National has been leaking Budget secrets, a major victory for the Labour-led Government will be keeping any surprises in store for Thursday at all.
Some will be predictable.
Among the economic and social indicators in Treasury's Living Standards Framework, "health" has both the smallest number of New Zealanders with high levels of wellbeing and among the largest number with low levels.
It's an obvious area to focus on in the first Wellbeing Budget.
The overdue response to the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry will be announced today, although firm dollar figures will have to wait for Budget Day. The Government must balance high expectations with adequate resourcing for both community and acute services.
After numerous working groups, the Budget's four-year estimates will show just what exactly the Government intends to deliver from the plethora of working group menus it has had in the past 18 months.
However, headline figures won't tell the full story. The "wellbeing" idea is similar to Bill English's social investment model: do more with less, or at least more with the same level of smarter, targeted funding.
So education will get a significant boost, but in the wake of the school strike it is unlikely to be good news for the Government unless it can point to new funding to make teachers' lot easier.
• Ben Thomas is a public relations consultant and is a former journalist and former press secretary to Chris Finlayson.