For three years, Mike Baird as treasurer has been promising to build infrastructure, return NSW to a position where it is ''living within its means'' by reining in expenses and to use the dividends to protect the state’s most vulnerable.
In his first budget, newly installed Treasurer Andrew Constance has delivered on Baird’s word.
A key line is repeated twice in his budget speech: ''We are now in control of the budget; the budget is not in control of us.''
The government continues to spend on its existing infrastructure promises, while flagging the possibility of more.
And while there are few genuinely new announcements in what has been revealed on Tuesday, support for social services is a highlight.
Constance has announced more than $1 billion in spending to protect at-risk children, and bolster disability support and homelessness services.
For a pre-election budget, though, there is a curious lack of new, big spending announcements.
If there is a political edge, it is the promise to direct the lion's share of what significant new spending there is toward western Sydney. The region is, of course, where the government will be seeking to consolidate its wins at the 2011 election.
But even much of this remains a promise. The budget is littered with ''feasibility studies'' worth a few million dollars each to explore the potential for roads and hospital-building – all of which would take place after next year’s election.
A standout example is Constance’s declaration that a ''centrepiece'' of the budget is ''the rebuilding of Westmead Hospital''. While this is slated as a $1 billion commitment, there is only $5 million in the budget papers for planning. The same is true for consideration of an M9 orbital motorway.
What Constance appears proudest of is what the government has already achieved in terms of reining in expenses through public service job cuts, efficiency dividends imposed on government departments and asset privatisations.
This means there is not much real excitement in Constance’s first effort, but neither are there savage cuts or tax increases.
It is a trust-building budget that says '‘look at how we’ve done precisely what we promised three years ago by reining in spending and securing billions of dollars for new infrastructure'’.
The hope is that come next March the electorate will trust it enough to carry out its biggest proposal yet – the partial privatisation of the electricity network to fund a new Sydney Harbour rail crossing and rapid transport network and extensions to the $33 billion WestConnex motorway.