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Why does the provincial government bother filing budgets at all?

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Today, Manitoba Forward condemned the 2015 budget as “more deceit” in a string of deceit about fiscal and economic policy from the Selinger government. When year after year financial projections are so out of sync with the actual budget – and year end actual spending far exceeds budgeted expenditures – it begs the question, “Why file a budget at all?”

Manitoba Forward Chairman Graham Lane – a former Public Utilities Board Chair – argued that the government hasn’t met commitments in budget announcements so often that today’s budget can’t be taken seriously by Manitobans.

  • The budget papers explicitly use a false economic growth number of 2.4% for 2014, in defiance of Statistics Canada’s conclusion that Manitoba’s economy only grew by 1.1%.
  • With Greg Selinger as Finance Minister and then Premier, Manitoba has consistently blown past its budgeted spending targets since 2001. The total spending forecast for the end of 2014-2015 is already $207m higher than Manitobans were promised a year ago.
  • Greg Selinger and his ministers have lied repeatedly about their deadline for elimination of the deficit, and they’ve extended that deadline twice. “The 2015 budget includes a proposed spending hike at twice the rate of inflation this year – which they wouldn’t do if they really intend to balance the budget in 2018,” Lane said.

These fictions and untruths come on top of the biggest whopper: Selinger’s broken promise not to increase the Provincial Sales Tax. “The budget still hasn’t changed the fact that Manitobans were shortchanged on the promise to invest every new PST dime collected on infrastructure,” Lane said.

With these “untruths” in mind, Manitoba Forward urged reporters to simply refuse to treat the budget as a factual document at all. “No one believes this budget will be delivered as promised, or as printed,” said Executive Director David Shorr, “so it’s time to stop pretending this is a real plan. It’s time for Manitobans to step up and demand better in the absence of honest leadership.”

Dave Shorr

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