PCs reject McNeil’s visionless budget

May 06, 2016 at 4:26 pm

More debt. Higher taxes. No jobs plan. No additional help for mental health, among reasons

HALIFAX, NS – Progressive Conservative MLAs voted today to reject the McNeil government’s complete lack of fiscal planning for Nova Scotia.

“This budget is proof that Premier McNeil has no vision or plan for our future,” says PC leader Jamie Baillie. “Instead, he is relying on hidden tax increases and accounting trickery to make the budget look better than it really is. For Nova Scotia families, the reality is that their personal income taxes are going up, while their wages and job opportunities are not.”

The hidden tax increase, known as bracket creep, squeezes out $19-$22.5 million more from Nova Scotian taxpayers. That’s more than the Liberals’ unrealistic surplus. The Conference Board reported last week that Nova Scotia already had the second highest personal income tax burden in the country, second only to Quebec.

That is a stark reality, says Baillie, and it’s getting worse.

“We continue to be gouged and Premier McNeil is content to benefit from it,” says Baillie. “In the absence of new private sector jobs, especially in small and medium size businesses, the premier continues to rely on transfers from Ottawa, plus taxes and fees from Nova Scotians.”

On the spending side, Baillie points out that Premier McNeil agreed to provide a $100 million subsidy to Bay Ferries, a private company, which includes money for terminal upgrades in Portland, Maine.

We wanted to see a real plan for private sector job creation in Nova Scotia, says Baillie.

“A growing economy is a better way to pay for our glaring infrastructure needs, healthcare and education,” says Baillie. “Sustainable resource development, fairer tax rates and real spending control are better than simply saying taxpayers have to pull more weight.”

Baillie also wanted Stephen McNeil to finally take the crisis in mental health seriously. This budget fails the thousands of Nova Scotians in need of help who continue to wait while the government refuses to act.

The Liberals are racking up a list of broken promises they could have addressed. The mining industry did not get the tax relief promised, the film industry is still reeling and all Nova Scotians are expected to pay more through bracket creep.

Then there is the Halifax Convention Centre.

“The Liberals are claiming they can spend one pot of money four ways – to have an unrealistic surplus, to pay down debt, to fund a new hospital and to build a trade and convention centre,” says Baillie. “Nova Scotians are not going to be fooled. The McNeil government should have been honest with them.”