Dexter to present budget in early fall
The day after his party's historic win, Nova Scotia NDP Leader Darrell Dexter said it will be early fall before his government will be able to present a budget in the legislature.
On Tuesday, the NDP won 31 seats in the 52-seat provincial legislature and will form the first-ever New Democrat government in the province.
Dexter said Wednesday he wants his transition team to start a complete audit of the province’s finances before pulling together a budget.
The incoming premier said the budget will be introduced in late September or early October once that audit is completed.
"I don't want to give anybody a date at this point ,just because it is dependent on getting through the practical aspects of looking for transition dates, looking for swearing-in dates, and all of that has to come first, and I don't want to put the cart before the horse," he told CBC News.
Dexter said he plans to appoint a cabinet later this month. He said his cabinet will have no more than 12 members and will run the province on special-warrant spending until a budget is assembled.
He also reminded people that he is inheriting a province with a deficit budget.
Budget challenges ahead
"We’ll have to recognize that and we’ll be looking to bring the books back into balance in the year following that," Dexter said.
"So, you know, I’m not naive enough to believe, to think, that any of this is going to be easy. But challenges are always a big part of any government’s mandate, and it will be for us."
Dexter said he would meet with Department of Finance officials as soon as possible to determine the true state of the province’s finances.
He said there are a number of measures he promised to implement that would have to be incorporated into the budget numbers presented by the defeated Tory government a month ago.
During the campaign, Dexter said he would be forced to live with Premier Rodney MacDonald's deficit if elected to govern. But he said he would be able to balance the next budget, which would be entirely his own.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil has been skeptical of Dexter's promise to balance the budget.
"There isn't a single leader in the province of Nova Scotia that can guarantee Nova Scotians they'll have a balanced budget next year," McNeil said on the campaign trail two weeks ago.
"If they're doing that, they're misleading Nova Scotians because they don't know the facts. No one knows how deep a deficit we're in. No one."
Dexter planned to speak with MacDonald on Wednesday afternoon.