Some points on last week’s provincial budget

So the provincial budget was tabled last week. There was some good, some bad, but overall I’m disappointed.

A) The biggest item seems to be increasing the personal income tax exemption. Cherenkov has a good post on how the exemptions aren’t indexed here. So I’m not going to revisit that.

However, personal income tax rates are a comparative thing. You should be able to see comparable tax rates for comparable level of service or standards of living. I’ve left QC out, because they have a different social services system so you can’t compare. But here’s a graph of the exemption rates since 2005 and projected to 2014. Now, my projections for other provinces may be off as I have used an average of the increases for the past 5 years, but I think you still get the idea: We’re rapidly turning into the newfoundland people joked about in the 80’s:

There is quite the difference between Manitoba and all the other western provinces. And while the other exemption rates aren`t that far off, remember that the differences are compounded by the fact that the lowest tax rate is higher in Manitoba than any other province in Canada( well, okay SK is 0.3% higher, but the huge difference in exemptions more than offsets that)

Do we get that much more than other provinces? I’m willing to bet any resident in Morris who is cut off from the rest of the province will say no.

B) Childrens arts credit? Okay, I’ll admit I do like when governments put more $$ in my pocket – but it really wouldn’t be a deciding factor to if I am going to put my kids in music lessons.

C) Cultural Industries printing tax credit? What the hell? Does the gov’t pick random industries out of the hat to give tax credits to? How about innovation, research and industries that could grow significantly as a result of these credits. This ranks right up there with the ‘ Hey, lets give the film industry tax credits and maybe I’ll get to meet a movie star!” level of crappy tax credits

D) How much is the provincial NDP party kicking in for preparation and printing of this document. I saw the phrase “Since 1999..” so many times, followed by a description of how great our government is that I could swear this is election literature. Aren’t political parties supposed to pay for that? The budget is (or should be) a government financial document, not partisan election literature.

E) And the one item I find really troubling is this: a 2.7% increase in public schools funding. Why do I find this troubling:

With the exception of two divisions, the remainder of the school divisions in the city have been without a teacher’s contract for in some cases over a year ( and this is common practice, and seems to be bad faith bargaining)

The increases of the two divisions that have recently negotiated a contract are in the 3% range. This is approximately the same  as what divisional support workers have received.

The Gov’t  has been offering the carrot for several years of TIGs if divisions freeze their property taxes.

Now, given that salaries are 80% of the divisional budget, and most divisions don’t have contracts in place, I’m not sure if 2.7% will be enough to cover new contracts ( and backpay for those that have been without).

It’s an election budget all right – appeals to a few critics right now, but when you look at it – absolutely empty.

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