Fiscal mismanagement by NDP cut off at the pass
Mere weeks after taking office, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall is already getting set to fix an emerging leak in the province's finances.
"We are going to have to make some decisions to get things under control on the spending side," Wall announced. "What the previous government has left behind financially is fairly stark and will need to be dealt with in the long term," he continued. "There's a reason why we didn't get a four-year projection on the budget this spring and we found that out early on in the transition."
According to Saskatchewan's new Finance Minister Rod Gantofoer, the NDP may have made it's long-term spending plans based on short-term revenues.
"If the implication of that is that the long-term state of the affairs of the provincial economy are not very good, then that's a grave concern," he said. "We will then have to systematically and responsibly and professionally deal with the issues."
Of course, this is nothing new. The province's outgoing NDP government actually forwarded a budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year in which a withdrawal from the provinces Sustainability Fund was necessary in order to call the budget a "surplus".
Which would actually mean the province was spending more money than it was recieving in revenues, intentionally borrowing against its own savings, and actually incurring a deficit.
The slings and arrows of realpolitik aside, there are some who remain less-than-convinced. "Can you explain, Mr. Gantefoer, how we're suddenly in a financial crisis at $95-a-barrel oil and with the Loonie soaring above the U.S. Greenback?" asks Murray Mandryk, a columnist for the Regina Leader-Post.
Of course, with oil prices proving to be a good deal more volatile than Mandryk is clearly giving them credit for, one might actually forgive Gantefoer for declining to plan a four-year spending spree based on a single quarter's oil prices.
In the meantime, the Saskatchewan party is already well on its way to getting the province of Saskatchewan back in ship shape.