Some Random Thoughts on #skbudget #skpoli

Brad Wall and his Sask Party buddies released their latest budget today and depending on the commentator you’re reading, it was either (borderline) cruel, cruel & unusual or a bloodbath.

Some thoughts…

  • Who goes through a massive resource boom and ends up raising PST?  If you said the NDP, you’d be brainwashed wrong.  That decision to raise taxes would be your (supposed) tax-hating friends in the Sask Party.
  • There are a lot of Internet forums filled with true-believers defending this budget. But politics isn’t sports, you’re not supposed to cheer for your team no matter how bad their management is or how poorly their players perform.  And I think a *lot* of less vocal Sask Party supporters will be quietly regretting their decision as the full impact of this budget starts to hit.
  • Speaking of, there are a couple things in this budget that may get more pushback from Brad Wall’s rural base than he realises – on one hand, cutting STC seems like low-hanging fruit if 25 of 27 routes are unprofitable (but then, why not go to less frequent service or use vans instead of buses or other cost-saving measures instead of cutting in completely?  It’s not going to look good to the townsfolk when old Granny Jones out in Dog River can’t take the bus in to her opthamologist appointment in the big city or Farmer John can’t get a part delivered quickly and cheaply.) Also, big cuts to rural libraries could really backfire as I’ve seen firsthand how much libraries mean in small communities.  (The anecdote in libraries is that the men on council will try to cut library funding since they never use it but then their wives will get wind of the cuts and suddenly funding gets restored!) 😉
  • Although they get a small tax credit to compensate for some cost increases, there is also lots of pain for lower income people including the incredible indignity of the government no longer paying the minimal costs of funerals for people on social assistance.
  • The Sask Party government got us in this mess in large part by overestimating resource prices over the past few years.  Yet they are disproportionately trying to get savings on the backs of workers – low-wage government cleaners, STC employees, public sector workers.
  • The government not only raised the PST but added it to numerous items (restaurant meals, children’s clothes, construction projects, snack foods) that were previously exempt which means all those things are basically getting a 6% price increase.  They estimated how much this would bring in but I wonder if they based that estimate on previous total sales for these categories or if they also accounted for a likely drop in sales since the prices will jump so much?
  • I guess my biggest complaint is that this budget didn’t have to be so brutal at all except…
    • The Sask Party spent like drunk sailors the past few years when times were good including whistling through a $1+ billion surplus left to them by the NDP when they left office in 2007.
    • They never created a sovereign wealth fund like pretty much every major oil producing region in the world (including left-wing socialist bastions like Alberta, North Dakota and Texas have.)
    • They did create three new unnecessary MLA positions that cost the province around $3 million a year, money that could be used much more effectively.
    • Saskatchewan corporation, Cameco, potentially owes around two billion dollars in money hidden via tax loopholes.  The Feds are going after their share but Sask isn’t going after our province’s share which could amount to $350 million.
    • Honestly, if I summarize all the ways that the Sask Party has mismanaged and abused our province’s finances, I’d just be re-hashing the much better work done by Tammy Robert over at OurSask.ca (and she’s not exactly a left-wing shill.  She used to work for the John Gormley show and admits that she had a Sask Party lawn sign as recently as this last election.  But she’s also a hard-hitting, tell-it-like-it-is journalist who puts many of our mainstream journalists to shame with her in-depth work.)

The only good news in this budget?  The odds of the Sask NDP making a big comeback in 2020 just increased greatly!

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