The MLA's desk

Brian Skabar
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First budget required tough decisions

On Tuesday, April 6, Finance Minister Graham Steele tabled our NDP government’s first true budget. We inherited a serious financial challenge from the previous government, which required tough decisions to be made. Minister Steele consulted with all Nova Scotians to develop a plan that will bring our province’s books back to balance by 2013-2014. This does include restoration of the HST to historical levels of 15 per cent, but it also includes key measures to grow our economy and help make life more affordable for families

One key measure is the elimination of the provincial portion of the HST from children’s clothing and footwear, diapers and feminine hygiene products. This point-of-sale rebate will lower the cost of essentials and reduce the cost burden on Nova Scotians. Low-income Nova Scotians will also be eligible for an Affordable Living Tax Credit. Households with earnings under $30,000 annually are now eligible to receive over $200 in tax rebates each year.

Cumberland North specifically received good news in this budget, as funding has been set aside for a new West Highlands school. This year, $1.1 million has been allocated for the design and planning phase of the project. The new school was a commitment made to our community in 2009 and reiterated by both myself and Premier Dexter.

Two very important Cumberland County community organizations also received good news in the form of a one-time Community Crime Prevention and Reduction Investment grant from the Department of Justice. The Amherst Regional High School’s SADD program received $1,200, which will aid in the travel expenses incurred when some of the members fly to Regina for the National SADD conference May 13-16. Silent Witness Nova Scotia (Cumberland Chapter) received $1,500 to continue educating the public and prevent future abuse and fatalities against women.

I was also pleased to attend the official opening of the new Pugwash Fire Station on April 10. Their hard work and remarkable fundraising activities certainly paid off. The new building is impressive and something the community can be proud of. Thanks to Chief Andy Yarrow for inviting me to be a part of this event.

On another note, I know many of you felt as disappointed as I did with the report from the Utility and Review Board on the border gas/tax issue. Following the report’s release, I had discussions with the premier and Minister Jennex about what the next steps will be. Our government will take everything into consideration and make a decision in due course.

Before I finish this edition, I want to extend my congratulations to the Cumberland County Community Credit Union Midget A girls hockey team, who made hockey history in our county on March 28 when they won the provincial championships in South Shore. 

As well, please join me in wishing the best of luck to Amherst’s Brad Blenkhorn, who will travel to Montreal at the end of April to join the Canadian team at the 2010 World Amputee Hockey Championships. The team will be competing for their fifth consecutive gold medal and world title.

As always, my office welcomes your comments, concerns and suggestions. Though I am still in Halifax as the spring session of the House of Assembly continues, my constituency assistant Melanie will be happy to help you and pass on any messages. Call 667-9812 or drop into the office at 30 ½ Church St.

Organizations: West Highlands school, Department of Justice, Amherst Regional High School National SADD Pugwash Fire Station Utility and Review Board Cumberland County Community Credit Union Midget

Geographic location: Nova Scotians, Cumberland North, Cumberland County Regina South Montreal Halifax

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