More than $20 million for two of the state's most in-need schools and a start on the government's election promise of hospital funding ensured there were a few winners in the North East from the 2019-20 Victorian budget.
Labor's big election promise for the region was $32.1 million to upgrade Wangaratta hospital, to expand the emergency department and refurbish the maternity ward, but that will start with $2.4 million in funding over the next two years.
When visiting the hospital in October, Premier Daniel Andrews did not promise to fund the full amount in the 2019-20 budget, instead saying it would be provided quickly.
Budget papers show $1.2 million will be provided to Wangaratta hospital in 2019-20 and another $1.2 million in 2020-21, "to commence infrastructure and service planning work for the redevelopment".
But there was no timeframe revealed for the remaining $29.7 million.
Ms Symes said the planning funds were necessary to facilitate the spending of the rest of the money.
Labor's other promise for the North East was a share of $136 million to give extra appointments with medical specialists and the budget revealed 9700 of the state's 500,000 appointments over the next four years would be at Wangaratta hospital.
"Part of the funding will be about attraction and retention," Ms Symes said.
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Family violence funding was also in the budget in the form of CCTV for the Centre Against Violence women's refuge in the North East and family violence specialist children's counselling services in Wodonga and Wangaratta.
The long-awaited next stage of Beechworth Secondary College's redevelopment will include $9.38 million for a new science and research centre including two laboratories, learning spaces, common areas, seminar rooms and staff rooms.
The conditions of the school had been graded as "red", rating it as one of Victoria's most in need of funding.
Another $12.06 million will be spent on science facilities at Benalla's old P-12 site, demolishing old buildings to make way for a STEAM building and science block.
"I'm very pleased for Beechworth to get its funding. You walk in there and you know it needs it," Ms Symes said.
"It's quite an hour when you get to announce when your former country school, mine being Benalla College, gets $12 million to upgrade.
"You really know what it means to country communities.
"Significant investment sends a strong message that you really care about those kids."
The budget also included money to purchase land for a proposed new primary school at Leneva on Frederick Street Road.
Goulburn Ovens TAFE will be one of three institutions to share in $46.3 million over three years in the first round of the Building Better TAFE Fund and Indigo Shire will be part of the second round of regions to receive kinder subsidised access for every three-year-old child, giving them at least five hours per week from 2021.
The budget also included $800,000 to build the Benalla splash park.
Funding for the North East was well below other areas of the state, including Bendigo where election promises in a marginal seat ensured it receives hundreds of millions of dollars in projects.
Treasurer Tim Pallas' budget message was "we're delivering on our positive plan that we took to the election".
"I think rural and regional Victoria is the solution to Melbourne's congestion problems, why would you live in Melbourne when you could live in regional Vic," Ms Symes said.
"It's making sure you have you have good hospitals, good schools, good roads and reasons for people not not have to travel into Melbourne."
Funds for projects are still missing
Benambra MP Bill Tilley has accused the Victorian government of not caring about the North East, after it released its 2019-20 budget.
The $9.38 million next stage of Beechworth Secondary College's upgrade was included, but Mr Tilley said this was not enough.
"Why is it going to take three years to do the works at Beechworth Secondary College - why not fund the entire project now, get it built?" he said.
He also questioned by there was no funding for the Rutherglen diversion, which will move trucks off the town's narrow main street.
Independent candidate in last year's election Jacqui Hawkins said she was disappointed with a lack of funding for Albury-Wodonga Health.
"AWH was expecting capital investment by Victorian government to match co-contributions for their emergency and intensive care unit," she said.
"During the state election we made health one of our key priorities, and the public response was overwhelming."
"Albury Wodonga Health has over 60,000 presentations, and one of the busiest maternity units, but gets a fraction of the funding in comparison to Ballarat or Bendigo."
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