After months of dampening expectations, the premier of Nova Scotia is making it clear he plans to balance the books in the next budget.
Darrell Dexter addressed a business crowd at a breakfast in Halifax on Wednesday morning.
Earlier Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald had waffled about whether or not the NDP would be able to keep their promise to balance the budget this year.
She blamed the growing deficit on a soft economy and said personal income tax is forecast to come in $62 million lower than expected. Corporate and gas taxes are also coming in lower.
But on Wednesday Dexter unequivocally asserted his promise, saying his government has already reduced the $1.4 billion deficit and will continue to fight off a sluggish economy.
"Next month we will keep our committment to balance the budget," he said.
Don Mills, CEO of Corporate Research Associates, said it's an important promise to keep given recent polling that shows less than fifty percent of Nova Scotians are satisfied with the NDP.
"We've never seen a government be re-elected with less than 50 per cent satisfaction numbers, and [the NDP] are a bit of a leap from 50 per cent at this moment," said Mills.
Dexter did not, however, have details on how his govermment will balance the books.
He said he plans to balance the budget without deep cuts.
"We will do this and still support the programming that we have, that people need," he said.
"Listen, let's see what [the budget] looks like. Our hope is that they'll be able to come to a balanced budget for the best interest of Nova Scotians," said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil.
"All I know is that Nova Scotians deserve a government that truly knows how to balance a budget and live within their means and I don't think that we're any further ahead today than we were yesterday," said Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie.
In July 2010, the NDP raised the harmonized sales tax by two percentage points, bringing it to 15 per cent.
Last April, Dexter promised to reverse the tax hike over two years, starting in 2014. And the deadline to balance the budget has been delayed until the spring.