Rainy day fund, debt reduction included in Saskatchewan Party platform
Brad Wall says if elected, they predict a balanced budget by 2017-18
The Saskatchewan Party released its full election platform on Saturday, promising to "keep Saskatchewan strong" by rebuilding a rainy day fund and paying down debt.
Over the past few weeks, the party has made a number of policy announcements, including the Highways 2020 Plan to repair more of Saskatchewan's highways, a plan to help graduates purchase their first home and individualized funding for young children with autism spectrum disorder.
Now the party is adding to those commitments, saying it will use oil revenues to put $500 million in the province's rainy day fund when the price of oil exceeds $75 U.S. per barrel. In a release, the Sask. Party explained that when the Growth and Financial Security Fund gets to that amount, oil revenues received by the province will then be dedicated to debt repayment.
It's easy to make a lot of promises. The challenge is keeping them within a fiscally responsible framework.- Brad Wall, Sask. Party leader
Once the operation debt has been paid off, those revenues will be used to create a new Saskatchewan Futures Fund, the party said.
"Most importantly, the Saskatchewan Party plan will keep our economy strong," party leader Brad Wall said in a news release.
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The platform also contains a pledge that, if re-elected, starting in 2017 seniors with household incomes below $70,000 would be able to defer all or part of their education property taxes until their property is transferred or sold.
"Most seniors want to remain in their own home as long as possible and this is one step we can take to help them do that," Wall said in the release.
The measure would be available to seniors owning and living in a principal residence with a minimum of 25 per cent equity. The estimated cost annually would be about $3.5 million, according to the party.
On Friday, the Saskatchewan NDP made a similar pledge that, if elected, they would help seniors defer all or part of their property taxes through a low-interest home equity loan from the provincial government.
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The Sask. Party said the total cost of their platform, in terms of new spending commitments, is $105.4 million over four years. Wall said the platform did not include much new spending and the party predicts the province would return to a balanced budget by 2017-18.
"I think there's some good things in there, but not a whole lot [of new spending]," Wall said to reporters during his campaign platform unveiling.
"It's one fifth of one per cent of expenditures and so, that's why we know it's affordable, even during some challenging times with the price of oil," he said.
Wall went on to say that his party isn't making a lot of promises because they want to keep within a fiscally responsible framework.
"We erred on the side of being fiscally responsible," he said.
A summary of the Sask. Party platform will be mailed to every household in the province and is also available online.
Voters go to the polls on April 4.