NDP promises to present 'balanced' N.S. budget
Opposition parties say they're anxious to read the fine print
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter says his party will offer a balanced budget in the legislature Thursday despite skepticism from the province’s opposition parties.
The December fiscal update showed the deficit was $277 million, but both Dexter and Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald have fervently said they will succeed where other provinces have failed.
Quebec, Saskatchewan and British Columbia are the only provinces who have tabled balanced budgets this year.
Dexter has offered some hints about the details of the bill, including tax breaks for low income seniors.
The speech from the throne suggested the province may start funding insulin pumps.
There’s also speculation the budget will set up a possible election in the province, which could take place as early as June.
Wednesday, Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald put a new twist on an old tradition by buying new work boots instead of shoes. She gave the boots to a industrial mechanics student at the Nova Scotia Community College.
"The budget really is about putting people back to work and giving young people better opportunities for training and education," MacDonald said.
Until the budget lockup is released this afternoon there's lots of speculation about how the government will slash the deficit. Nova Scotia's opposition parties say they're anxious to find out where the province found the money to put the books in the black again.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said he is concerned the NDP will seemingly balance the books by adding to the debt.
"We potentially believe what they're going to do is offload a bunch of expenditures for this coming year, backload it to balloon the deficit in the current year and make it look like they've balanced the budget, a trick that the MacDonald government tried to do in 2009," he said.
"To me it's very important that we stop the growth in debt to our children. A truly balanced budget, no pre-pays, no funky accounting just an honest accounting of where we are is the first step to turning the province finances' around," said Progressive-Conservative leader Jamie Baillie.
If the government does balance the books this year it will be the only Atlantic province to do so.