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Steele, Baillie agree, disagree

Finance Minister Graham Steele and Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie are in agreement on how to put the province back in black ink.

Finance Minister Graham Steele and Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie are in agreement on how to put the province back in black ink.

What to do then, however, is the subject of some disagreement.

On Saturday, Baillie pleaded that, if elected premier, he would balance the books by “pinching every penny” in every government department.

Baillie, who helped to deliver balanced budgets as Premier John Hamm’s chief of staff, said the process requires hard work.

Steele agrees.

“That’s going to require some difficult decisions, it’s going to require making every dollar work harder than it’s ever worked before,” said Steele, whose own back to balance plan envisions the budget balanced in 2014.

But he said he didn’t understand Baillie’s subsequent commitment to roll back last summer’s two-percentage-point HST increase.

“If he’s going to eliminate the HST, which is worth $300-million a year, then he has to be running a $300-million surplus,” said Steele.

“So I’d be interested in knowing his plans for not just getting to balance ... but how he was going to generate a $300-million surplus.”

If the government does manage to run a surplus, Steele said he looks forward to having the discussion the possibility of scaling back the HST increase.

“But we’ve got a long way to go before we get there.”

 
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