Criticized by all and loved by no one, a sad and lonely Nova Scotia budget was passed into law yesterday.
Absent was the pomp and circumstance that usually accompanies a new budget. Instead, the legislature quietly passed it after question period before moving on to other business.
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The government had washed its hands of this budget since before it came into office in June. Premier Darrell Dexter said it was too late in the year to create a new plan, so instead 2010-11 will be the first true NDP budget since this year they would reintroduce the Tory one with minor tweaks.
Those tweaks – especially a $341-million pre-payment to universities – plus lowering the Tories’ rosy economic projections led to a $591-million deficit.
That caused the Tories to balk that this wasn’t their document. They said removing the provincial tax on home heating electricity and allocating millions to buying land was fiscally irresponsible.
Finance Minister Graham Steele shot back that the Tories hadn’t budgeted near enough to combat H1N1, also known as swine flu, and had put aside “effectively zero” for union negotiations, adding the NDP had to increase spending.
Meanwhile, the Liberals have been making every effort to paint this year’s books orange and have repeatedly said the deficit falls on Dexter’s shoulders.
The vote was originally supposed to take place Monday but Tories held it up with a symbolic delay of defiance. They repeatedly called for recorded votes, which causes an hour delay to give members time to get to their seats, on various procedural matters. Eventually time ran out and the house was adjourned.