Cumberland North MLA says provincial budget misses the mark
When it comes to growing Nova Scotia’s economy
Cumberland North’s PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin said Tuesday’s provincial budget had some good things in it for her riding, but misses the mark when it comes to economic development and addressing Nova Scotia’s massive debt.
“I’m disappointed there’s no real focus on growing the economy,” Smith-McCrossin said in response to the budget delivered by Finance Minister Karen Casey. “We need to focus on growing the economy and creating jobs. We have to take steps now by doing things like money to support entrepreneurs and making tax changes that support business.”
She said she found it odd that the province is expecting $20 million in revenue from the sale of cannabis that’s expected to become legal as soon as July. She’s concerned there’s no offsetting expenditures for enforcement or education.
“They really don’t know what the revenues are really going to be, but they’re balancing the budget on marijuana sales,” she said.
Smith-McCrossin said the government is adding another $120 million to the provincial debt, adding it’s doing very little to address the province’s financial picture – something future Nova Scotians are going to have to clean up.
“On one hand, they’re saying they have a surplus of $29 million but we’re another $120 million in debt. As we look to interest rates increasing in the near future we should be looking to control our debt, not increasing it,” said Smith-McCrossin, who is a candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership.
She is pleased to see more money for health-care and physician retention, but she’s concerned with how the province actually spends its money and is worried no new money was earmarked for psychiatrists. The MLA is disappointed the province didn’t adequately address the long-term care situation, adding that too many people are stuck in hospitals around the province waiting to get into longterm care facilities.
Locally, she’s pleased there is money to fix the Hastings Road that was an issue during last spring’s provincial election, while work is also scheduled for Highway 6.
She’s disappointed, however, that the province doesn’t appear willing to take any steps to eliminate the tolls on the Cobequid Pass any earlier than 2019, which Premier Stephen McNeil pledged to do before last year’s election and again during the campaign.
“This year they’re projecting over $9 million in net profit. The question I have is how much of that $9 million is off the backs of businesses and residents in Cumberland County,” she said. “I’ve said time and time again this is not a fair tax. I really believe the money is there to eliminate the toll now.”
Smith-McCrossin said she was disappointed there was no mention of the Rainbow Bridge in the budget, but she remains optimistic the province will find money to either repair or replace the structure once it has a consultant’s report in its hands in the next week or so.
“Even though it’s not in this budget, I’m hoping the minister will find the money to replace or repair the bridge,” she said.
She’s also hoping the government will do something to address the situation at the two Springhill elementary schools sooner rather than later.