Opposition unimpressed by NDP budget, claim it’s actually a deficit

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METRO HALIFAX

Liberal leader Stephen MacNeil

HALIFAX - The NDP government has released a balanced budget for 2013-14, but opposition leaders say the party has found a way around owning up to a real deficit.

According to the budget, the province estimates it will spend $9.5 billion next year and keep a $16.4 million surplus by increasing user fees, raising taxes on tobacco, income taxes, and slashing departmental spending by $86 million.

“It’s up to the auditor general … to test these assumptions, who says ‘yes these revenues estimates are absolutely reasonable,” Premier Darrell Dexter said to reporters Thursday.

Revenue from provincial taxes is estimated to bring in $233.6 million more than last year’s forecast, and helped slay the $300 million deficit the government had been working under.

Dexter said it makes sense that Nova Scotia will be collecting more income tax because more citizens will soon be heading to jobs with Deep Panuke, the Irving shipbuilding contract, offshore exploration, or IBM.

“They make more money, the economy grows,” Dexter said.

But Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said the budget is a “hollow victory” that is really a deficit because of the $34 million pre-paid amount for two universities.

“Without that, we would be in an $18 million deficit,” McNeil said.

The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Acadia University requested funding in the past few years after budget estimates had went through, but Dexter said the government has been working with the schools to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

McNeil also said there’s also no way the economy can grow fast enough to meet the NDP’s estimates.

“No economist has suggested it’s going to grow up to the rate that this government suggests. No one is suggesting we’re going to get that $145 million in income tax,” McNeil said.

Leader Jamie Baillie of the PC party said he has “serious questions” about the balanced aspect of the budget, including the prepaid issue and promises of future savings.

“There are actually some accounting changes, the bottom line effect of which may well be bigger than the surplus as a whole,” Baillie added.

“Even in the assumptions they don’t see any new jobs being created … and as long as that’s the case, it’s not balanced.”

HALEY RYAN - METRO HALIFAX

Organizations: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Acadia University, NDP, IBM

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • sparky
    April 05, 2013 - 22:14

    Forget about the budget, they just gave another $20 million to a pulp mill. Go figure.

  • bg wall
    April 05, 2013 - 10:30

    no matter what anyone comments on past present or future, my prediction is there will be 14 less ndp mlas after the election in may or june plus 2 of the 3 will lose in pictou county.

  • observing it all
    April 05, 2013 - 10:04

    I don't remember the last liberals and quite frankly don't need to remember them. That was the 90's and the world has changed a pile since then....all I know about the current government is that they ran with a slogan "For the Families" and since elected have done nothing but take a bigger share of my income, and hand it out in corporate welfare. This budget is nothing more then smoke and mirrors to try and hide the fact that again they want to dip into our income while cutting services. The NDP wouldn't get my vote in the next election even if they paid for it.

  • Johnny smoke
    April 05, 2013 - 07:39

    I am on a fixed income, I know that some of you think that I am some old rich codger with nothing more to do than just complain. I run my household much the same at this givernment runs the province. I use my credit card, I run it up during the month, and when the bill comes in along with my pension pension cheque I pay it off in full. Then i run it up again and pay it off again. Is my budget balanced? Does my revenue equal my expenses, well yes, I guess it does. Am I getting ahead? am I paying off other bills, am I retiring my mortage? will I have to borrow money if an unexpected event occurs? Yes I will and so will the provincial government, so I you believe what malarkey they are sprouting, just remember do not let your credit card outrun your ability to pay, or you will be in the same fix as they are, it is called denial.

  • Remember the last Liberals
    April 05, 2013 - 06:23

    Let's not forget how the last Liberals tried to balance the budget. - crown land disposed of - privatized toll highways with no oversight - P3 School deals that went bad - wages cut - and on and on and they never balanced it, not even within "fudging" distance. And lets not forget about Rodney MacDonald and gang (one of which is now a Liberal)