The provincial budget puts off tough decisions and instead forces families to make the difficult spending choices, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).
Expenses are up 2.4 per cent in the budget, which came down earlier this week from Finance Minister, Kevin Doherty.
The province is projected to carry a $685 million deficit this year. The Wall government has a plan to get back to surplus within three years.
“Saskatchewan families and businesses have been trimming spending for a couple of years now. The government needs to do the same thing,” said CTF prairie director Todd MacKay. “We can’t tax our way out of this problem, we cannot borrow our way out of this problem, we need government to take a harder look at reducing its own spending just like everybody else has.”
With PST up to six per cent, and expanded to restaurant meals, children’s clothing and construction services, MacKay is still left confused as to how the government can carry a $685 million deficit when there is over $900 million in new tax revenue.
In addition, he said interest costs are up another $84 million in this budget and if we continue to borrow more money those costs will only get higher.
There’s been a call for years from CTF for the government to get rid of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC). While MacKay said it’s unpleasant to see real people losing their jobs, the choice to shut the company down was reasonable.
“The reality is, we simply can’t afford to keep funding a failed bus company,” he said.
MacKay has also been vocal about the government setting up a heritage fund, which was not included in the budget.
He indicated a $300 million contingency fund isn’t enough, adding if Saskatchewan gets another economic boom the province should have a savings account to put the money into on an ongoing basis.
Ultimately, he hopes the plan to get back to balance comes to fruition, but he’s not overly confident, saying people should be skeptical anytime a government says it’ll balance a budget in future years.
“Tomorrow never comes. That’s the reality. If we gotta make tough decisions, procrastinating on those tough decisions aren’t going to make them easier. You gotta get down to business.”