Ques­tion­able fea­tures to new Saskatchewan provin­cial bud­get still ex­ist

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Ron Wal­ter can be reached at ron­joy@sask­tel.net By Ron Wal­ter For Moose Jaw Ex­press

The sec­ond edi­tion of the three-year Saskatchewan Party plan to elim­i­nate the $1 bil­lion an­nual deficit wasn’t nearly as con­tro­ver­sial as the first edi­tion.

That first edi­tion raised storms of protest over ex­pect­ing gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees to take a nine per cent wage cut over three years, over in­sis­tence that li­brary users rely on Google in­stead of pa­per books, over de­priv­ing poor peo­ple of a fu­neral ser­vice, over loss of ru­ral bus ser­vice for thou­sands of peo­ple, over cuts that in­creased lo­cal prop­erty taxes, just to men­tion some of the just griev­ances. This bud­get is mild by com­par­i­son but does con­tain some ques­tion­able matters.

The de­ci­sion to close new ap­pli­ca­tions to the rental al­lowance sup­ple­ment for low in­come res­i­dents seems cal­lous and harsh. The can­cel­la­tion un­til a new federal-provin­cial agree­ment is ne­go­ti­ated is pre­ma­ture. Why not wait for a new agree­ment?

To some this de­ci­sion sends a mes­sage that the Saskatch- ewan Gov­ern­ment doesn’t care if more peo­ple be­come home­less. Keep­ing the al­lowance cer­tainly wouldn’t break the trea­sury.

The ap­pli­ca­tion of provin­cial sales tax (PST) to sales of light used ve­hi­cles is ques­tion­able, given the Saskatchewan Party was orig­i­nally elected on a prom­ise to kill that tax; the ar­gu­ment made by the party years ago was based on the fact th­ese ve­hi­cles have al­ready had PST col­lected. This op­por­tunis­tic tax par­tially trans­fers a tax bur­den from one group of Saskatchewan Party sup­port­ers to the whole tax­pay­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Dur­ing the Saskatchewan Party lead­er­ship cam­paign solid farm ob­jec­tion to the PST on crop in­sur­ance was met with prom­ises and leg­is­la­tion re­peal­ing the $65 mil­lion on pre­mi­ums for crop, health and life in­sur­ance. The new used ve­hi­cle PST will raise $95 mil­lion a year and shift a sig­nif­i­cant piece of that ru­ral in­sur­ance bur­den onto ur­ban tax­pay­ers. There is no ar­gu­ment for farmer hard­ship from PST on in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums. Farm­ers are do­ing so well some older op­er­a­tors have post­poned re­tire­ment as they have never made this amount of money be­fore.

Taxes are sup­posed to be fair and eq­ui­table to all tax­pay­ers.

And the bud­get speech lack of any es­ti­mate for the im­pact of rev­enues and costs of le­gal­ized cannabis this sum­mer seems odd and out of touch with nor­mal ac­count­ing prac­tices.

There is no noted al­lo­ca­tion in jus­tice bud­gets for the costs. Fi­nance Min­ster Donna Harpauer’s bud­get speech claimed too much un­cer­tainty to es­ti­mate rev­enues. Surely the gov­ern­ment must have some idea of the cost to im­ple­ment le­gal cannabis.

The rev­enues will help cut into the fore­cast $365 mil­lion deficit. Why not take a con­ser­va­tive guess?

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