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Fulfilling budget pledge 'not impossible,' Dexter says

Premier Darrell Dexter says it may still be possible to balance the books without raising taxes or cutting spending.

Premier Darrell Dexter says it may still be possible to balance the books without raising taxes or cutting spending.

Dexter spoke yesterday for the first time since the independent firm Deloitte released its audit of the province's books Monday showing Nova Scotia is facing a $1.3-billion deficit by 2012-13.

While announcing his new economic advisory panel, Dexter said it still may be possible for him to keep all of his election promises despite figures that are much worse than earlier projections.

“I still believe that these things are not impossible to do,” he said.

When asked how the province could handle its massive shortfall without cuts or tax hikes, Dexter avoided specifics.

“Governments make tens of thousands of decisions,” he told reporters. “There are many, many things that impact revenues, everything from the price of natural gas to the economic model that is used to project growth. All of those things are still in the mix.”

According to the Liberals it’s a matter of the NDP making promises that could never be fulfilled. Liberal MLA Diana Whalen said yesterday there’s no way the government can live up to all its commitments while staying out of debt.

“If you know accounting, there’s only two ways you can get more money. You’re going to either raise more revenue or you’re going to cut your expenses,” she said. “They’ve made promises to do neither,”

“There’s going to be broken promises,” Whalen added. “What we saw in the election was unrealistic.”

One thing Dexter did say the government was looking into was amending the provincial finance act. Currently the act requires any deficit to be paid back the following year, which would add an $84-million burden to this year’s books.

But Dexter wouldn’t confirm if the NDP were looking to re-borrow offshore money to pay for services – the issue that led to the Progressive Conservative legislature defeat this spring.

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