I have had a day or so to reflect on the provincial budget that came down on Tuesday. I continue to wonder why the piddly little tax increases that basically just annoy a wide variety of constituents but have no real revenue value or investment value. In truth, they could have rejigged a few things, cut a couple of programs or ran a small ‘temporary’ deficit and not had the CFIB or Al Hogan on their case.
But maybe the grizzled veterans of the McKenna – who wore out the carpet waiting for their return to power – maybe they wanted to send a message. Float a trial balloon. A little pain – a fly bite really – Grant Thornton says that those making $150K up will pay a whopping $391 more per year. They would be better off griping about losing the HST rebate on electricity to heat their Kingswood homes. I am sure the doctors, lawyers and senior civil servants making $150k will not like losing $391 but I severely doubt it will radically change their standard of living.
Plus the majority of the gang making that kind of dough are incorporated as ‘small businesses’ and pay a much lower rate than a salaried person anyway.
But I digress.
Back to my point.
So after seven successive feel good Tory budgets with small tax breaks and ‘all new money into health care and education’ – not to mention record inflation adjusted increases in public sector wages – maybe the Liberals think we have grown soft. Maybe they think they needed to ‘test the water’ a bit but throwing up these little tax increases.
In truth, if the Liberals had ‘frozen health care spending’ and plowed the money into ‘economic development’ there would have been war in the wigwam so to speak. Imagine that. The health budget is up almost $160 million from last year’s budget even though our population hasn’t budged an inch. That’s an additional cost of over $700 per family in New Brunswick. In one year.
In fact, New Brunswick’s health budget has increased in line with provinces that have rapidly expanding populations. Funny stuff, eh?
So maybe the Libs are warming us up for a massive reset of spending into economic growth generating activities.
We can only hope…..