Tories torn on budget deficit question - Metro US

Tories torn on budget deficit question

Rodney MacDonald insists his budgets are balanced, but members of his own party have been quoted disagreeing with him.

The Tory government was defeated after failing to change finance laws that would have let them take offshore money from 2005 and spend it today.

That leaves this year’s and last year’s budgets with multi-million dollar shortfalls that finance officials and at least two ministers have confirmed would be a deficit.

“Until that act is changed, that provincial finance act is changed, yes the budget would be in deficit,” Finance Minister Jamie Muir said Monday.

Government House Leader Cecil Clarke also confirmed to reporters last week that the budgets would “technically” be in deficit unless the law change is passed.

But during a media scrum yesterday MacDonald repeatedly insisted the budgets are balanced.

At one point he agreed, “legislation needs to be passed in order to balance the books of the province.” But when reporters pointed out the legislation was not passed, he did not accept that this meant the budgets were in deficit.

“Yes it is balanced. What we have put forward is a balanced budget and a plan in order to do that,” he said.

MacDonald finally closed the discussion by saying “I’m not going to get into an argument with you guys. That is the case.”

A lump sum of several years’ worth of offshore offset money was given to the province in 2005 and put on the debt by former premier John Hamm. MacDonald wants to re-borrow this and last year’s shares of that money to balance the budgets.

Without that money, there is a $260-million shortfall over the two years.

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