Quick budget assessment

Since you won’t get this from any other source (likely), here’s my quick and dirty take on the new provincial budget from an economic development perspective:

$6.4 million for ‘investment and exports’ – which I assume is for investment attraction and export development. That’s 0.1% of the budget. That’s one tenth of one percent of the budget. Remember that the staff costs and other overhead comes out of this number. Lovely.

$8.6 million for ‘strategic assistance’. Given that they gave $7.5 million to Molson – I guess they are planning to do one or two deals next year that require ‘strategic assistance. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

Now, flash back to 2000-2001 – the Tories first year to bring down a budget. In that budget they allocated $15.8 million for ‘investments and exports’ and $25.3 million for ‘strategic assistance’.

So, to sum up. New Brunswick population is in the first period of decline since the Great Depression. And the government has cut the budget for attracting business and increasing exports by half since they came into office. In addition, they have cut the ‘strategic assistance’ budget by 70%.

Can it get any worse.

Yep.

Alberta actually increased it’s economic development budget by 12%.

Ontario raised its economic development budget from $230 million last year to $351 million this year – a 53% increase.

Quebec just announced it is “earmarking $1.4 billion in additional funding for sustainable economic development. These priority initiatives are part of the government economic development strategy, The Qu├ębec Advantage.”

$1.4 billion.

And now for the grand finale. From the 1999-2000 budget to the 2006-2007 budget, total government expenditures in New Brunswick are up 36%. In Ontario, budget expenditures are up 46% but they added almost 1 million people in the same time frame. New Brunswick, has actually witnessed a slight population decline in that time frame.

The New Brunswick Tory government is a wonder. You’ve heard of tax and spend Liberals? In New Brunswick, we have ‘cut taxes and spend more Conservatives’.

Here’s how Bernard Lord’s Tories can actually cut taxes and massively increase spending while facing a declining population:

$397 million more Equalization in 2006-2007 than in 1999-2000
$265 million more in Health and Social funding from the Feds in 2006-2007 than in 1999-2000
$63 million more in ‘conditional grants’ from the Feds in 2006-2007 than in 1999-2000

Yes, you say, but we must have raised some additional taxes from New Brunswickers?

You are correct, sir.

$249 million in personal taxes
$21 million more in corporate taxes
$85 million more in property taxes (this grinds me the most)
$63 million more in gasoline taxes (as I have said, they cut personal taxes by a piddly amount and made more than enough back from gas tax increases)

So to sum up,

Over $630 million more from the Feds ($400 million of it straight Equalization) on a declining population base.

48% more new Equalization than new corporate and personal taxes combined.

Keep that in mind as you read Al Hogan gushing over the wonderful budget tomorrow.

It is, in my opinion, a travesty beyond words that they can dole out tax breaks and slash economic development funding in the context that we find ourselves in circa 2006.

It is egregious.

I might have to get out the dictionary to throw in more superlatives.

Rome is burning and the Lord’s Tories just want to make it to another election.

Aw shucks.

Tomorrow I’ll be more upbeat, promise.