Draconian cuts, tax hikes or deficit, says Sask. Party

Sask. Party won’t cut its waste, and won’t come clean on the books

Saskatchewan’s finance minister said Wednesday that “draconian cuts,” deficits or tax hikes are the only options to deal with the low price of oil – and they won’t tell us which option the Sask. Party’s going with until after the election.

“It’s ludicrous to think that hiding the finances and their choices with our money, is acceptable,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “And so is the bogus set of options Finance Minister Kevin Doherty laid out Wednesday.”

Wotherspoon said the Sask. Party’s Lean program, their American lobbyist, their 228 per cent increase in spending on private consultants, the travel scouts for Mr. Wall, their big spending on hiring foreign corporations through high-interest P3 rent-to-own deals, their billion-dollar bypass cost overrun, government advertising – there are a lot of savings to be found from that waste.

Finance Minister Kevin Doherty’s comments were made on CBC's The Morning Edition on Wednesday morning.

“So when you’re faced with these kinds of precipitous drops in revenue, you’re faced with two or three choices. One is you can raise taxes, you can make draconian cuts, if you will, in various spending departments across government, or you can have a temporary deficit. So those are the choices we’re looking at as a government right now to try and balance the budget,” Doherty said.

Host Sheila Coles asked: “are people going to know which of those options you’re looking at before they go to the polls?”

“Well again, you know, we don’t have the forecasts so we’re not doing a budget prior to the election,” said Doherty.

Wotherspoon said hiding their plan, including a refusal to release a full financial report in time for it to be audited by the independent Provincial Auditor, is totally unacceptable and deceptive.

“We had a booming economy and huge windfall revenues, but the Sask. Party didn’t help hospital crowding and health care wait times. They didn’t hire more teachers and educational assistants – in fact, they cut them,” said Wotherspoon. “They drained the rainy day fund in very sunny years, and have increased the debt by billions – including more than $1.5 billion this year alone. Those were their choices in good times. People are anxious about what the Sask. Party’s misplaced priorities will mean now. More cuts? More privatization for a quick buck but long-term losses? Clearly there’s a lot at risk for everyday families.”