The Calvert government is continuing to build a dismal balanced budget record by introducing it's fourth deficit budget in the past six years.
This time, the forecast deficit is $700 million. Saskatchewan is now the only province in western Canada currently running a deficit and one of the few remaining deficit provinces in the country.
All this when revenues, forecast to approach $8 billion, are higher than ever.
The government has created a budget that, for all intents and purposes, dooms the province to years of increasing debt.
Every budget envelope has been stuffed to capacity. Health spending is up another $300 million this year.
They've found money for a prescription drug plan for seniors, even though most of them are doing well enough on their own. There already is a program for low-income seniors. This is a blatant vote buy -- pandering to the Tommy Douglas generation.
They've found money to offer a substantial tax cut for recent graduates of post-secondary programs. The program effectively increases the basic personal exemption for grads to $20,000 per year for five years. What about that guy who had the terrible misfortune of graduating last year? The new guy in the next cubicle is $5,000 richer than him.
The rest of us pay high taxes to subsidize education to the tune of 80 per cent, subsidize the student loan program, and now work hard so philosophy grads can wait tables tax-free for five years.
Oh, did I mention they are running a $700 million deficit this year?
PS: For perspective, this may be the largest deficit since you-know-who.
UPDATE: Just heard Finance Minister Andrew Thomson say on CJME that "That's what the Fiscal Stabilization Fund is for -- to help pay for tax cuts."
First off, the premise of this statement is false. The government doesn't need "help" paying for anything. Government revenues are higher than they ever have been.
Second, that is NOT what the stabilization fund was intended to do. It was meant to help cushion against sudden drops in revenues due to fluctuations in resource prices.
The government has been saying this for years, and Thomson's own web site clearly lays out what the FSF is for.
Short-term drops in revenue and exceptional expenditures lead to pressure for tax increases and program reductions, which may be inappropriate over the long-term. A fiscal stabilization mechanism helps governments pursue long-term objectives in the best interests of the public by reducing the pressure for stop gap solutions to short-term volatility.
It has always been a rainy day fund. Who's lying now, Minister?