Reduce the House to 20 MHAs
It seems pretty clear to me that the Newfoundland taxpayer is the victim of a forced march into an economic Death Valley.
There are a great many concerns but I’ll only highlight three.
The provincial debt has gone from $7.9 billion in 2003 to roughly $12.5 billion currently with a deficit of $1 billion for this year.
When Muskrat Falls is finally constructed and operating, it will greatly increase the provincial debt, but will also feature a substantial rise in the cost of electricity for the Newfoundland taxpayers. A double whammy, so to speak. The province will in 2016 raise the provincial portion of the HST from eight per cent to 10 per cent.
Now these are not the only increased costs that Newfoundland taxpayers are asked to bear, but are illustrative of the condition we find ourselves in.
The government seems bereft of ideas on how to lessen the tax burden on its citizens, so I am suggesting two measures that will decrease the expenditure of our tax dollars somewhat and cost nothing to implement.
Bring an end to the lowest tuition in Canada for students attending MUN that are not from Newfoundland.
Auditor General Terry Paddon has said regarding Memorial’s $388-million budget, “... a third of that is essentially supporting students from elsewhere, rather than Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”
It’s a simple question — who is more important? Students from elsewhere or the over-burdened Newfoundland and Labrador taxpayers?
The other action to save taxpayers millions every year is to reduce the number of MHAs to 20. There is nothing that 40 MHAs do that 20 can’t. So besides the 20 MHA salaries and pensions, there are staff salaries and operating expenses for MHAs that NL taxpayers would be freed from.
There are also other non-monetary benefits to having fewer MHAs. There would be increased visibility and political profile for each MHA.
Constituents’ concerns would be more likely to get acted on due to a more powerful MHA. He or she would not be lost as one of 48 or 40.
The party in power would be more likely to consider and accommodate other party views, especially if it’s a minority or coalition government, which with only 20 MHAs in the House seems probable.
Let’s remember the sad economic situation we are in was arrived at by a 48-member House of Assembly and it had the windfall oil royalties totalling in the billions to work with, yet, here w
Doug Smith writes from Grand Falls-Windsor