Public sector employees search Budget for pay rise money

Show me the money! That's the message from teachers digging through the Budget looking for the money pot that would give them pay rises.

Teachers, nurses and police are all in negotiations for more pay - but the money pot may not cut it.

Stephanie Lamborn's teaching day starts with making sure students at her low-decile school have breakfast in their bellies and shoes on their feet.

"My pay doesn't reflect the effort and the work that I do," she says.

"For the amount of emotional effort I have to go through every day to build relationships with students."

Teacher pay negotiations are underway with the Government. Liam Rutherford is a lead negotiator for primary teachers - and he's seriously unimpressed there was no specific mention of cash for pay rises in Thursday's Budget.

"I guess it just further added to the narrative that valuing teachers isn't a priority right now," he says.

But Newshub has found a money honey pot hidden in the Budget for pay rises - not just for teachers, but nurses and police too.

"For obvious reasons we don't make it obvious where that contingency is," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

It's a little line, tucked away. Next year it's just $284 million - the Government would like this to cover pay negotiations.

Teachers want a 16 percent pay rise - that would cost $300m a year and instantly wiping out the pay pot - and that's just teachers.

If the pay pot is blown - the Government will be forced to cough up even more than planned next year to cover nurse, teacher or police pay rises.

If it blows out beyond that it'll start cutting into its surplus. But it's a healthy one - there's $3.1 billion to play with.

"It's a perfect Budget I knew it was," says Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

But for public servants desperate for more cash - not so much.