We agree there are a number of very wobbly assumptions:
- Increasing revenue despite a recent history of dropping revenue.
- No increase in health spending despite increases in the last five years.
- Public sector wage assumptions although nothing is settled.
- A 20% increase in VLT revenues with no details given.
- Claiming the convention centre transfers in this fiscal period.
These are of concern as missing even one puts Nova Scotia back into the red. But let’s take the government at its word.
All of the budget reactions tendered by the media and the other parties seem to be afflicted with very low standards for budgets:
- The budget has been termed 'not exciting' because it lacks 'goodies'.
- All criticism is about nickel-and-dime amounts such as $5 million here or $20 million there.
- Somehow this is a 'special' or 'election' budget since the government isn't saying it will overspend for a change.
However, let’s take a step back and look at the big picture:
- Government will take in $360 million in new revenue this coming year (!) from the private economy (that's you, me, large and small businesses) and for the first time ever in the history of Nova Scotia the government intends to extract over $10 billion in revenues. The proposed revenue is,
- an increase of 7% from two years ago with over a 10% increase in government cash grabs (Net Income from Government Business Enterprises) which are everyday fees, levies, NSLC prices etc. ; and
- 35% more from ten years ago while the population has remained static.
- Departmental spending is up by $200 million, total spending a new historic high.
- The net debt will increase by $75 million. Again a new historic level of debt.
And all of this with no change in the population who are expected to pay for all of this.
So what is this budget proposing?
- More taxation.
- More spending.
- More borrowing.
The same as, at least, the last 20 budgets.
This cannot continue. Nova Scotia needs a fresh approach.