Opposition doubts budget is balanced
'These numbers are made up, quite frankly'
Nova Scotia's opposition parties are raising doubts about whether the NDP government has produced a balanced budget.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said the budget is nothing more than a pre-election document so the government can say they produced a small, $16-million surplus.
"The numbers don't add up," McNeil told reporters on Thursday. "These numbers are made up, quite frankly, to fit the government's agenda."
McNeil said a pre-payment of $36 million last year to two universities — $27 million to Acadia University and $8 million to the Nova Scotia University of Art and Design — means the budget is actually in deficit. The pre-payment means the money is for this year but went on the books in 2012-13, inflating last year's books but helping this year.
McNeil said he doesn't believe the NDP's promise of a surplus will hold up at the end of the quarter.
"There's simply no way those revenue projections will be maintained," he said.
Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said the lack of a jobs in the budget is shocking.
"Not a single job is being created today," he said. "There is no plan to create jobs and grow our economy in the future."
Baillie said he has serious questions about whether the document is actually balanced. He said his party will spend the next few days putting the numbers under a microscope.
"They've included some promises about future savings around purchasing and so on that are more than the surplus itself," he said. "We're going to dig into those in the days ahead."
McNeil said there are some good aspects of the document, including the NDP's proposal to fund insulin pumps and supplies for children.
"Obviously we're pleased with that," he said. "We were certainly pleased as well to see cystic fibrosis is going to be identified early on."
But McNeil was quick to add that he believes the Department of Education will be the loser in this budget.
"This is another assault on public education. The kids of our province have been hit again," he said.
McNeil has no doubt Nova Scotians will be heading to the polls soon — the NDP has an inability to grow the economy, he said, and voters will see that.
"This is a government that has, at every turn, broken a promise to Nova Scotians," McNeil said.
Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald's $9.5 billion budget is propped up by an anticipated boost of $214 million in provincial revenues and another $81.4 million in departmental spending cuts.
With files from The Canadian Press