20 February 2017
Opposition leader promises tough questions during budget estimates
Fredericton-PC Opposition Leader and MLA for Quispamsis Blaine Higgs says the Gallant government can expect substantive questions as individual government departments appear before the Standing Committee on Estimates and Fiscal policy.
“The Gallant government plans to spend over $9.3 billion that belongs to the people of New Brunswick. We will do our best to uncover where and how that money is being spent. The Premier has been boasting about spending more tax dollars than ever, but has had little to say about spending that money wisely or getting results. In two years the Gallant government increased the annual tax burden on people and businesses by over $500 million.”
Higgs says the Premier’s focus on spending to buy votes is reckless and selfish.
“The Premier says he will spend more on things like health and education. I know we can do so much better with the money we have already been spending. The Premier fails to understand that he cannot tax and spend his way to better results, he cannot tax and spend his way to economic prosperity and he cannot tax and spend his way out of debt. The Liberal tax and spend philosophy has brought our province to its knees both economically and financially.”
The Opposition leader says the claims by Gallant government members that they are taking a “balanced approach” to deficit and debt are far from the truth. “Annual spending has increased nearly 4%, net debt has increased 2.4 billion so far, annual interest payments exceed $700 million and the Gallant government is pushing our debt toward $15 billion. The only balance with this government is tax more to spend more.”
On Tuesday the Department of Tourism will be the first to have their estimated spending for 2017-2018 examined. Opportunities NB is also scheduled to appear on Tuesday.
Again this year the Gallant government has adjourned the legislature for a month while estimates are going on, thus avoiding daily question period and weekly opposition day, where the Gallant government does not get to set the agenda.
Also this year the Gallant government is using night sittings to cram all budget estimates into a two week period while the Premier is away from the legislature, as opposed to the four week period last year.
“Premier Gallant has already indicated we can expect two years of campaigning rather than governing and this budget is further evidence. This government spends more time trying to convince people they are doing the job, than actually getting the job done. If the government employs the same strategy as last year, each day we can expect some sort of good news press release from the department appearing before committee. These releases will be intended to divert media attention away from the actual estimates. It worked last year which is why I expect more of the same this year. Forcing night sittings is a new ploy and makes us ask ‘what’s the rush’? “Says the PC Opposition leader, adding the Official Opposition will be using social media to report on their findings in committee.
“We will be employing the growing power of social media to get the facts on government spending to the taxpayers. I invite people to follow our NBOpposition twitter feed as well as my Blaine Higgs Facebook page and those of your local PC MLAs for frequent updates and information that may not be available elsewhere.”
The PC leader says his party’s commitment to honesty and common-sense is gathering momentum, “We continue to build a strong coalition of people who want to put our province first and politics second. Together we are spreading the message that government must change its ways and the first step to recovery for New Brunswick will be to change this government.”