Thursday, March 27, 2014

A DESIGNER MADE BUDGET

You know I am in a crappy mood when I can not get motivated to blog or shave.

Apparently, those are the two tell tale signs that I need to reach deep down into my back-up power reservoir for a little extra juice to get motivated.  The only thing interesting me at the moment is a feed of wings and a few beer, although the pleasant aroma of Kristine's vindaloo  simmering in the kitchen has stimulated my taste buds.

Today is budget day in Newfoundland and Labrador. I got tossed out of work as a result of last year's tough love budget. The poll driven conversion of the Conservatives to put forward a Liberal budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year reflects the reality of the unpopular slide resulting from the government's past record. 

The budget line items read like the answers from question period. It as if those that crafted it sifted through the questions and said this should shut them all up. Lets give the opposition something they can not criticize. 

If the government had not let spending get out of control over the past 13 years through bad investments, poor decisions and  unsustainable salary increases, I might congratulate them on this budget. I might say something like the people deserved this.

How in the name of the Virgin Mary in the Garden did we go from being Canada's pour cousin to rolling in dough to borrowing cash to operate?  It is like the fella who won the lottery, went on a spending spree and ended up on welfare.

I have been chastised up and down from some regarding the impact of Harper's broken promises related to taking the natural resources rents out of the equalization formula. I still believe that had that occurred we would have been in  a position to rebuild our decayed infrastructure and catch-up without spending ourselves into deficit, again. 

However, the government has squandered a lot of money. A few million here, a few thousand there for pet projects and patronage appointments builds up over 13 years.  The loss of good paying jobs in the forestry sector alone - the closure of two pulp and paper mills, the loss of hundreds direct and indirect jobs comes at a price.

I think Tom Marshall is a nice guy, but he is not gaining any credibility blaming the opposition Liberals for the current fiscal problems facing the province. Whether it be pensions, infrastructure, programs, patronage, job creation, economic diversification, failures to address the needs of children or ferries - it is the three term Conservative government's record that is at issue. 

 Fortunately, due to  high oil and mineral prices, the provincial coffers filled up. These spent revenues, as today's budget illustrates, proves the government as not been a prudent economic steward. They gorged in the good times, leaving nothing at all for the slim times. A balanced approach would have  ensured prosperity for generations to come. Blowing it, as we earn it, has only led to impending financial disaster.

I am not overly concerned about short term borrowing, but I have to question the government's commitment to the bottom line, particularly pension reform, when MHA Pension Reform is not on the agenda. What is really lacking, and has been lacking for a long time is a clear long term plan for the future. Everything is peace-meal and reactive.

Apparently the government has exhausted/wasted  any gains accumulated from our natural resource rents pouring any extra funds into the Lower Churchill Fall's Project. It is very hard to get a sense of comfort when the government invests all our eggs in one basket and plays Rip Van Winkle with a diverse agenda of socio-economic challenges.

Everyone deserves to enjoy the benefits of our natural resource rents without handing the bills to our grand children.



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