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Payroll tax relief for businesses was not considered in Victoria's pre-election budget, with the government prioritising a return to surplus and health spending.
Tuesday's state budget, the eighth handed down by Treasurer Tim Pallas, projected land and payroll tax would grow by $4.8b and $6.8b, respectively, next financial year.
Both revenue streams are then expected to grow 7.2 per cent and 6.5 per cent annually over the forward estimates, adding billions more to Victoria's coffers.
When asked if he thought about shielding businesses from the rising payroll taxes after two COVID-19 lockdown-plagued years, Mr Pallas was blunt.
"No, not in this budget," he told a post-budget Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry lunch on Wednesday.
"You might have noticed I'm running a $17 billion deficit and as a consequence we've got to make choices to get this repair underway. Now's not a time for it."
As the economic threat of COVID-19 wanes, the state is forecast to return to black by 2025/26 with a narrow $650m surplus after gradually reducing deficits of $17.6b, $7.9b, $3.3b and $1.1b.
Victoria's net debt is predicted to soar to $167.5b, or 26.5 per cent of gross state product, by mid-2026 after the government spent $44 billion on health and business support during the pandemic.
To keep public borrowings in check, a future fund is being set up using cash from the partial commercialisation of VicRoads' registration, licensing and custom plate services.
Mr Pallas admitted there may be parts of the budget some people don't like but "at least we showed what fiscal repair looks like".
Premier Daniel Andrews also made no apology for the lack of payroll tax relief, saying the extra cash would contribute to the government's $12b health funding boost for more nurses, paramedics and emergency call-takers.
"No one likes to pay any tax," he said near the site of the proposed Melton Hospital.
"But payroll tax and land tax and stamp duty, they all pay for nurses ... and the more than 7000 extra health staff that are going to join us in public hospitals right across our state over the next four years."
The timeline to build the Melton Hospital has come under the spotlight after the budget papers confirmed planning and detailed design likely won't be completed until 2024/25, with construction then expected to take more than four years.
The Andrews government promised a business case for the hospital during its successful 2018 re-election campaign.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy accused Labor of stringing along Melton residents with the proposal.
"The government's had four years to come good on their pledge to build this hospital, to even start it. Four years later it's an empty field," he said.
The opposition also accused the government of ignoring small business by denying them tax relief and ending pandemic relief measures.
It's not just business wanting tax changes, with the Real Estate Institute of Victoria describing Tuesday's budget as a missed opportunity.
Land transfer duty is expected to be $10.2 billion by the end of June, up from the forecast $6.7 billion in the last budget.
It's projected to fall to $8.2 billion in 2022/23 before growing by two per cent over the forward estimates.
"Stamp duty is a tired tax that the Victorian government continues to prioritise. The state needs a review of its old property tax regime so that all participants - first homebuyers, owner-occupiers, investors and renters - can move forward with confidence," REIV chief executive Quentin Kilian said in a statement.