''That money [for schools and hospitals] was never in any budget': Tony Abbott and NSW Premier Mike Baird.

''That money [for schools and hospitals] was never in any budget': Tony Abbott and NSW Premier Mike Baird. Photo: Chris Lane

Tony Abbott has questioned the need for an emergency meeting of state governments over the federal budget's $80 billion cut to schools and hospitals as he all but conceded breaking a promise over taxes.

The Prime Minister said on Sunday his government could have continued to try to “fool” people over the need for the federal government to tighten its belt but had decided Australia could not live on borrowed money.

Mr Abbott said that additional funding promised by Labor for health and education had never been accounted for in the budget as he stepped up pressure on the Senate cross bench to respect the government's majority.

"We are happy to talk about different details with minor parties and independents in the Senate but they've got to accept that we are the government."

Mr Abbott told the ABC: “We could have continued to try to fool people and say, 'You don't have to change' but that would, frankly, have been pretending to people that our country could somehow go on living on borrowed money."

“That money [for schools and hospitals] was never in any budget. It was a pie in the sky promise by a Labor government that knew it wouldn't be around to deliver on it.”

State premiers are expected to call on the federal government to delay cuts to hospitals and schools until 2018 at their meeting in Sydney on Sunday.

But Mr Abbott said that there was three years until the slow down in funding growth would take place and that he had been “absolutely upfront” with the states.

“This idea there is some kind of emergency because things are going to have to be adjusted in three years' time is not right," he said.

“We always said we weren't bound by those agreements [between the states and the former Labor government] in the out years. The first of the out years has come on to the budget. We have said to the states, 'We will continue to increase your funding but not at the same unaffordable rate Labor was promising'.”

Before the election, the Coalition promised there would be no cuts to education, health or pensions, no new or increased taxes and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.

Asked on Sunday to admit that his government had broken those promises, Mr Abbott said it was for Australians to judge if he had kept his word.

“ I believe we have fundamentally kept faith with the promises we made pre-election. Yes, I accept that the deficit levy will impact on the top 3 per cent of taxpayers. Yes, I accept that the fuel excise indexation will cost in the first year the average family 40 cents a week. I accept all of that," he said.

“But we did say that we were going to get the budget back under control and I believe that this was what the people of Australia elected us to do.”

Mr Abbott said he was not proposing the GST should rise to cover the looming shortfall in funding to state budgets.

The Opposition treasury spokesman, Chris Bowen, told Sky News on Sunday the ALP would engage in the coming debate about possible changes to the GST.

"We're more than happy to have a debate," he said.

But Mr Bowen added: "We don't support broadening the base or increasing the rate [of the GST]."

The former treasurer said he had considered a deficit levy for "about seven seconds" in government but ruled it out as it was not good policy.

However, he signalled Labor would allow the measure to be brought in by the Abbott government.