A balanced budget highlighted by no new taxes and controlled spending was unveiled when the provincial government tabled their 2014-15 budget in the Legislature today.
Finance Minister Ken Krawetz presented the seventh SaskParty government budget earlier this afternoon, with the budget forecasting a surplus of $71 million.
"This wasn't easy to accomplish. Total revenue is essentially flat, down 0.7 per cent from last year to $14.07 billion. Net income from the Crown and insurance sectors is down almost $200 million. Tax revenue is up, mostly because of growth in individual income tax. Non renewable resource revenue is up just slightly, with oil increases offset by potash decreases," Krawetz explained during a media conference call.
"Because of the decline in revenue, our government had a choice to make. Raise taxes or control spending. Our preference will always be to balance the budget by controlling spending. That's why there are no tax increases in this budget. No education property tax increase, no personal or business tax increases."
"In order to get to a balanced budget, with no tax increases, spending is down about $28 million, or 0.2 per cent from last year. This meant some difficult decisions. Some areas funded by government are receiving less than what they asked for."
"Even with revenue challenges, and the need to control spending, this budget still makes important investments in infrastructure and important investments in people."
This was also the first SaskParty budget presented with a summary focus, as recommended by the Provincial Auditor.
"Steady growth is the big picture, a vision for the long term and a full view of what's happening in Saskatchewan. So beginning today, the focus of our budget and our financial statements will be a summary focus, which includes all aspects of government revenue and spending."
"The 2014-25 budget accounts for all government revenue and all government spending. That means there can be no question about the bottom line. And the bottom line is this - this budget is a balanced budget, with a projected surplus of $71 million."
The budget shows the province collecting revenues of just over $14 billion, down 0.7 per cent from the previous year despite the growing economy. The Finance minister admitted the province considered raising the Education Property Tax, but ultimately decided to maintain mill rates at their current levels.
Expenses are at the $14 billion mark, down 0.2 per cent from last year.
The budget boasts increased spending in both healthcare and education.
Record funding of nearly $5 billion to the Ministry of Health represents a 3.0 per cent increase compared to last year. Regional health authorities will receive a 3.4 per cent increase in funding, receiving $3.25 billion for operations and targeted projects.
Education is receiving $1.76 billion in funding, with the Ministry of Education receiving an additional $52.4 million from a year ago. School operating funding is up 2.4 per cent.
The Ministry of Social Services received 7.4 per cent more funding.
In the Southwest, a total of $2.1 million was allocated towards the P3 project which will construct the new Swift Current long-term care facility.
Also in the Southwest, the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility project in Maple Creek was one of five long-term care construction projects to share $27 million.
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