Patrick Gower: Steven Joyce puts Labour in financial straightjacket

OPINION: Steve Joyce has used the opening of the Government's books to send a message to voters: if Labour wants a big bribe, it will have to raise taxes.

The quick summary of the Pre-election Fiscal Update (PREFU) is that there is not the extra money available many thought there would be over the next few years.

So with the books offering less money to spend than expected, Joyce has ruled out National making any tax cut bribe before 2020.

And with some glee, Joyce has made it clear that his Labour counterpart Grant Robertson will have difficulty funding its promises - unless it borrows money or raises taxes.

To do this, Labour is almost certain to look at raising income tax on people who earn over about $150,000.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and Robertson are planning a major bribe in tertiary education and have repeatedly refused to rule out raising income tax to fund it - depending on what the books showed.

And basically what the books reveal is that while there is a $2.1 billion bonus in the surplus next year it pretty much flattens out after that.

So Joyce has stood up and put Labour in a financial straightjacket.

Labour has been shown the money - now it must show voters the taxes.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's political editor.