National is very keen on announcing new funding for special education, because it sounds positive. Who doesn't like the idea of helping kids in need? Sadly, they're not so good at actually delivering on those promises:
More than $32 million of funding for children with special needs has languished in government coffers for two years, leaving schools to foot the bill.
The Ministry of Education says the underspend is because of the delay between announcing special education programmes and implementing them - a practice that isn't "unusual".
One of the programmes responsible for the education budget underspend is Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L), which has been championed by Education Minister Hekia Parata.
It has received annual cash injections since 2009, including more than $63m of an $80.5m budget in 2013.
This is despite the ministry revealing it didn't fill the staff vacancies needed to implement it.
Because why would you? I mean, its only kids who desperately need help, after all. But the side effect of this slackness on the part of the Ministry is not just that those kids don't get help, but that the funding disappears forever - because they're only allowed to spend the money appropriated in the particular year it was appropriated for. So, that $32 million isn't sitting in a bank account somewhere, just waiting for the Ministry of Education to get its shit together - its gone. One way of meeting your artificial surplus target, I guess.