NDP Leader Cam Broten is calling for MLAs to return to the legislature this month to deal with the financial mess the Sask. Party is hiding – which breaks the province’s balanced budget law.
That call follows an announcement Monday by Brad Wall that the Sask. Party intends to violate The Growth and Financial Security Act. The balanced budget law in Saskatchewan requires the government to balance the budget every year, or in “exceptional events” when that’s not possible, to open the books for complete transparency, and lay out a plan to offset the deficit with a surplus in the very next budget year. In violation of that law, Wall says, if re-elected, he'll run at least two consecutive deficit budgets – but he’s still refusing to disclose any details.
“Saskatchewan people deserve so much better than a premier who is running massive deficits but still making, and hiding, bad spending choices,” said Broten. “They’re still choosing to fund Lean; the extensive use of overpriced consultants; adding three more MLAs to the legislature and entitlements like travel scouts. We need to open the books, see how deep the hole is, and debate their spending decisions.
“Families are already the ones paying the price. The Sask. Party has cut hundreds of front-line health care workers and thousands of surgeries. Teachers, and educational assistants have been cut, along with classroom funding. University students have had their scholarships cancelled. Those are the cuts they've made instead of cutting their own waste. Talk about messed up priorities.”
The Sask. Party has increased debt to over $13.3 billion this year, up from $7.9 billion in 2009. The Rainy Day Fund was intended to stabilize the province’s finances in rougher years, but the Sask. Party drained it before the price of oil fell – nearly $1.4 billion is gone. Despite years of record resource boom, the Sask. Party spent every dollar, didn’t save anything, and left the province with little to show for a decade-long boom.
The total amount of the current deficit is still being hidden by the Sask. Party.
In a letter delivered to Wall Tuesday morning, Broten called for a special session of the legislature lasting at least one week.