Province boasts deficit reduction - Metro US

Province boasts deficit reduction

Finance Minister Graham Steele is crediting spending restraint and increased revenue for cutting down the province’s deficit by almost 60 per cent.

Last year’s additional appropriations, or how much each department went over budget, was just $23.8 million, down from $407.9 million in 2008-09.

“We’ve reduced expenses, increased revenues, and are the first government in a decade really to get control of unbudgeted spending,” Steele said Thursday in releasing the numbers.

Higher than expected revenue — notably, $83.2 million in income tax — also contributed to cutting the deficit.

Additional appropriations are sometimes referred to as “March Madness,” when departments rush to spend their remaining budgets before the fiscal year end.

Despite the belt tightening, however, 14 out of 20 government departments spent more in 2009-10 than the year before.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil accused the NDP of fixing the numbers to justify the two per cent HST increase that took effect July 1.

“There’s no question … (that) all of their costs were inflated to be as high as possible, and revenue numbers were as low as possible,” McNeil said.

Big spender
Government handing out more cash than before.

• Numbers Fourteen out of 20 government departments spent more last year than a year before.

• Increases Some of the largest increases were in Health ($203.4 million), Labour and Workforce Development ($78.90 million), Community Services ($54.3 million), and Municipal Relations ($34.2 million).

• Decreases The biggest decreases were in Assistance to Universities ($35.1 million), Economic and Rural Development ($17.6 million), and Energy ($11.2 million).

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