Remarks land Doherty in hot water

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January 28, 2016 10:15 AM

Finance Minister Kevin Doherty

The Saskatchewan Party found themselves under fire by the opposition NDP last week after comments made in the media by Finance Minister Kevin Doherty.
The remarks involved ideas the government could use to make up for a half billion dollar shortfall in the province’s finances that came from poor energy royalties, emergency wildfire spending last summer, and a softening in the uranium and potash sectors.
“When you’re faced with those kinds of precipitous drops in revenue, you’re faced with two or three choices,” Doherty said in an interview with CBC Radio’s The Morning Edition host Sheila Coles.
“One is you can raise taxes, you can cut or make, you know, draconian cuts if you will in various spending departments across government to try to balance the budget or have a temporary deficit.”
Provincial NDP Deputy Leader, Trent Wotherspoon, quickly responded by releasing a statement that said the options were “bogus” and the Sask. Party was refusing to say which option they were going with until after the election.
Wotherspoon said the government was going to hide the true state of the province’s finances until after the election as well.
“It’s ludicrous to think that hiding the finances and their choices with our money is acceptable,” said Wotherspoon. “And so is the bogus set of options Finance Minister Kevin Doherty laid out…”
Doherty defended these choices in a recent phone interview with the Source and added that Wotherspoon’s accusation that the government plans to hide the province’s financial picture until after the election is “just false”.
“I’m surprised the NDP would say that because we made it quite clear that we’re going to provide a third quarter update toward the beginning of March,” said Doherty.
“I told the media this and I told the NDP this: we’ll provide a full accounting of the province’s finances prior to going into the election campaign so people will know exactly where we’re at.”
As for the cuts, tax hikes or possible deficit, Doherty likened managing provincial finances to that of any other business.
When faced with significant shortfalls in revenue there are only so many choices to make up the balance and those were the three that Premier Brad Wall hinted at, said Doherty.
The third quarter fiscal update will be presented near the end of February or the beginning of March, then the Premier will make announcements on their strategy before the election campaign, during which they will seek suggestions and input from the public.
“That’s what we’re going to do. Take our ideas to the people and the people will have the opportunity to make that choice and decide which plan they prefer moving forward in the next four years,” he said.

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