Sask. budget to dominate spring sitting: Wall
The next Saskatchewan election won't be held until November, but the unofficial campaigning could start Monday with the spring sitting of the legislature.
Politicians are expected to trade speeches and barbs over issues like health care and housing when they return to the assembly. It's the last sitting before voters head to the polls and both parties will be pitching their agendas.
Premier Brad Wall believes the budget will dominate the agenda.
"We are going to have a chance to reduce debt, to reduce taxes and to have a surplus and to make some keys investments and keep some promises that we've made," Wall said in a recent interview.
"We think that it's the blueprint for moving the province forward and I think it'll be very much the centrepiece of the session."
The budget, which will be unveiled March 23, is expected to include long-promised cuts to the education portion of property taxes and municipal revenue sharing.
'Pre-election spending spree'
The Saskatchewan Party government has been doing a lot of spending lately because revenue in the current budget is higher than expected.
Since January, it has announced hundreds of millions of dollars for hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, post-secondary institutions and affordable housing. It has also set aside money for flood prevention measures.
The premier said that money had to flow now.
"All of these investments we've announced, especially in health care and education infrastructure, it's important that those who are our partners understand they're coming and have the chance to plan and get the projects underway as soon as possible," said Wall.
The Opposition New Democrats have said the government is "on a pre-election spending spree" in the current budget year to artificially balance the books in the coming election year budget.
NDP Leader Dwain Lingenfelter said he'll use the session to lay out his party's plans for the future. He wants to talk about health care and affordable housing policies, like rent control.
"In the last few sessions it's been more criticism than critical analysis of what the government's doing," said Lingenfelter.
"There will be a major shift and we'll now be debating what a New Democratic government will be doing after the election versus what a SaskParty government will do. So I think in that sense it will be much more positive because we'll be rolling out positive alternatives, which we haven't been able to do in the last couple of sessions."