Graham dodges N.B. spending cut debate
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | 8:07 AM ET
Liberal Leader Shawn Graham is avoiding offering any specifics about what government services he'd cut in a second mandate in order to curtail the province's deficit.
Already in the campaign, Graham has committed to limiting the growth on government spending to one per cent to help eliminate the budgetary deficit in four years.
The Liberal leader said he'll allow spending on health, education and senior care to grow beyond one per cent, but he won't say what he'll cut to allow for those larger budgetary increases.
While Graham is more than willing to say what will grow in a future budget during his campaign stops, he won't say where a future Liberal government would cut.
"When the budget exercise starts, we'll go through that process," Graham said.
Graham prefers to push the idea that economic growth will create the wealth to pay for health and education and pay down the $749-million deficit in 2010-11 and the province's $8.3 billion debt.
The Liberals have said they will create 20,000 jobs in their second mandate and the extra revenue generated by that employment will help pay for the new services.
"What we're focused on today, growing the economy to generate the revenue to reinvest back in those frontline services," Graham said.
The Progressive Conservatives have also promised to cut the budget deficit in four years.
So far, the Tories have promised to set up a government office controlled by the premier that will find places to cut wasteful spending.
Progressive Conservative Leader David Alward is also promising to cancel a scheduled tax cut for the province's highest incomer earners and corporations.
New Brunswick's corporate income tax is supposed to fall to eight per cent by 2012 but the Tories say keep the tax rate at 10 per cent. New Brunswick taxes people earning more than $118,427 at a rate of 14.3 per cent.
The Liberals have legislated a plan for two tax rates by 2012. In that plan, people earning more than $37,893 would be taxed at 12 per cent and those earning less than that at nine per cent.
Alward has said he could save $120 million over the next four years by halting the tax cuts for the highest income earners.
The Tories are also promising to offer a buyout package to civil servants in order to reduce the size of the bureaucracy.
The NDP and the Green party have each promised to eliminate all of the planned tax cuts that have been legislated by the Liberal government, saying they are too costly considering the massive deficit.