Today is budget day, and many are wondering if there’s anything left to announce after a flurry of funding and policy announcements over the last few weeks.
It’s widely believed the provincial government will call a general election immediately following today’s budget. There has been a long list of recent good-news government announcements – everything including the elimination of some unpopular taxes, a replacement for Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, to a renegotiated Atlantic Accord, insurance changes and rate mitigation.
Spending levels and the province’s deficit remain a serious concern however.
In December, Auditor General Julia Mullaley released a damning report indicating that the province was still spending beyond its means, and with deficits expected to persist until 2022-23, the net debt—in the range of $15-billion—was only expected to increase. She also indicated that while the province generates more revenue per capita than any other province, it also spends more per capita.
It was revealed last year that the province was borrowing nearly $2-million a day to service the debt, but government was forecasting that the province was on track to return to surplus by 2022-23.
Mullaley cast some doubt on achieving that goal.
You can brush up on details of last year’s budget here. The provincial budget comes down this afternoon at 2 p.m. VOCM News will carry the details and reaction live as soon as the Minister rises in the House of Assembly to speak.
Parties Making Preparations for Potential Election Call
Political parties are making preparations as if the election call were coming tonight.
The Liberals have been on a furious spending spree the past few months and speculation is that the actual call could come as early as 6:00 this evening for a mid-May vote.
VOCM will be going live with the budget at 2 p.m., although it makes one wonder if there are any other “election goodies” to come. The government dropped a $60-million sweetener yesterday with the elimination of the tax on automobile insurance.
VOCM’s Linda Swain and Paddy Daly are in the budget lockup at Confederation Building and they will be on live from 2 to 3 p.m. with details and reaction.