The seventh balanced budget in a row is on its way to Nova Scotians, Finance Minister Michael Baker told the Halifax Chamber of Commerce yesterday.
In a pre-budget speech, the minister pledged not to raise personal and business tax rates and said there will be no major cuts to public service.
“As you know, the federal finance minister (Jim Flaherty) has challenged all provinces to cut corporate taxes,” Baker said, according to the prepared text of the speech. However, the Nova Scotia government’s ability to reduce corporate income taxes will depend on fiscal capacity, he added.
Baker also served notice that debt reduction will not overtake certain spending priorities this session, citing a competitive tax climate and economy and infrastructure maintenance as top concerns.
Nova Scotia’s $12.4-billion debt as a percentage of gross domestic product had fallen to 36.6 per cent last year from 48.7 per cent in 1999, Baker said.
The government put $830 million from the offshore offset agreement towards the debt and will do the same with at least 70 per cent of potential Crown share payments, he noted.
“Reducing the province’s debt is critically important, but so are other things,” Baker said.
The spring session of the provincial legislature begins Thursday.