Farrell says PC plan would have cut too much, too fast to balance budget
The Liberal government was probably not expecting its budget to receive a passing grade from Opposition Leader Jamie Baillie, and the Cumberland South MLA did not disappoint with his reaction.
AMHERST – The Liberal government was probably not expecting its budget to receive a passing grade from Opposition Leader Jamie Baillie, and the Cumberland South MLA did not disappoint with his reaction.
The Progressive Conservative leader said he was “shocked and awed” by the increased spending in the first budget produced by the Liberals since taking office last fall.
“This is a new record of spending at a time when every other family is being asked to cut back, and it’s not right,” he said. “It’s a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ budget, when all Nova Scotians are being told to cut back, but the increases in administration are staggering.”
For example, he accused the government of making cuts to its funding of provincial parks in Cumberland County, as well as snow removal budgets, while senior administration of those departments in Halifax will see increases.
“There is no news on small rural schools like Wentworth, while senior administration in the department of education goes up by 20 per cent,” said Baillie. “Now we see the true Liberal priorities – more spending while everyone else has to do with less.”
He also accused the government of “duping” post-secondary students by canceling the Graduation Retention Rebate, which was worth $2,500 per year to them, only days after eliminating the interest on their student loans, which would cost the average student about $800 in their lifetime.
Increased spending on education and health care will help cap classroom sizes and recruit doctors, according to the government, while the HST will be maintained at 15 per cent to avoid increasing the deficit to $426 million.
Cumberland North Liberal MLA Terry Farrell said the government simply could not do what the Baillie Conservatives were proposing.
“If we did what he was proposing we would all be bleeding to death, we just weren’t prepared to bring forward what would be a hurtful budget to most Nova Scotians all in the name of balancing the budget,” Farrell said. “He says we can’t afford some of the things we’re doing, but I look at it as an investment in critical areas like education and health care.”
Farrell said the budget will result in a longer economic recovery, but he said it’s reasoned, well through out and one that doesn’t bring out the sharp knives to cut important programs and services that people depend on.
Despite a deficit of $279 million, Finance Minister Diana Whalen said the budget would clear the way for private sector growth, and reinvestment in education and health care.
"In the face of economic and fiscal challenges, this budget allows government to follow through on the commitments it made to the people of Nova Scotia and prepare the foundation for the work ahead," Whalen said in a news release issued after the budget address. "The private sector grows the economy, but government has a role to play in building an environment that allows business to invest, produce, compete and grow.”
A Progressive Conservative budget would have held the line on spending, thereby balancing the books and leading the way to meaningful tax relief, according to Baillie.
“No one knows better than the people of Cumberland County what happens when our taxes are out of line with our neighbour’s,” he said. “The Liberals have just condemned us with four more years of the highest taxes in Canada.”