Re­duce the House to 20 MHAs

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

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

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