The Saskatchewan Budget and Wall’s Fuzzy Principles

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From the cuts to the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), to slashing public libraries, to hits to post-secondary institutions, to the sudden rethink of the tax roles of local governments, figuring out the policy rationale behind the Wall government’s latest budget is no easy task.

Is it meant to be pro-business? Anti-urban? Is it trying to appeal to a voter base that would help keep the Saskatchewan Party in office? For those trying to analyze the budget, the answer could very well be “Darned if I know!” In politics, having a reputation of being muddled never pays off, whether amongst other elected peers such as premiers, or amongst those who can enter a voter’s booth. Here, the budget’s negatives can also be measured in the loss of an elected official’s social capital.

Unfortunately for Premier Brad Wall, the losses might not be limited to the court of public opinion. The city of Saskatoon is considering an injunction against the budget, which will reduce the amount of grants the province pays to municipalities in lieu of taxes each year. Losing a portion of those grants means a potential budget shortfall for Saskatoon of $11.4 million dollars. Like any legal position, Saskatoon’s view is not necessarily guaranteed to succeed in the courts, but the publicity around the issues at play might be well worth the effort. The narrative from the municipalities will be clear, the province’s less so.

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