I won’t comment on whether or not it’s appropriate for the Premier and Finance Minister to be spending so much time in a hot tub even as they expect their cabinet ministers to take a pay cut. What I will say is that it’s truly remarkable how often the NDP government finds itself unexpectedly in years past. It seems like a surreal concept at first… I mean, a hot tub that functions at a time machine… but how else can you explain NDP policies?
Now, unlike the movie, they’re not always transported back to 1986, as that year is usually reserved for the NDP approach to business regulations. Today’s episode (#354) has Rosann Wowchuk planted firmly in 2008. The rest of humanity lives on in 2010, looking for signs of recovery and debating how to pay back the deficits from the past two years. Meanwhile, the NDP are looking full speed behind, looking at changing their own balanced budget law so that they can continue to run deficits until 2014 after spending all of 2009 bragging about how well the Manitoba economy has been doing. Here’s how I see it: Either Manitoba fared well, and we should have a shorter period of deficit than everyone else (or none at all), or Manitoba fared just as badly as the rest of the country and four straight years of deficit is justified. It can’t be both things; if the NDP is trying to claim that it is both things, there is only one explanation: mismanagement of public money.
Cherenkov has a good post, Budget analysis: ouch, talking about the numbers, and Curtis has some good points about the idea of fake frugality (Frugality Is Dead: Long Live Frugality). And Dr. Gerrard also shows the NDP overspending with his post, NDP budget: For ten years the NDP have shown poor budgeting and poor expenditure management.
To me, the most concerning aspect of this budget is what it means for 2014. As Cherenkov points out, the NDP always misses the mark in its planning, spending more than it originally set out to do. As well, the Rainy Day Fund is likely to disappear altogether, as the government’s initial estimate is that the fund will be brought down from $800 million to $200 million; we’re already used to overly optimistic estimates from this government during easier times.
How does the Manitoba government plan on balancing the books in 2014? More Rainy Day transfers from an emptying account? More service fees? A moratorium on paying for the City of Winnipeg’s pet project of the month? The truth is, there is no plan. None at all…
No, wait… that’s not fair…
The plan is: keep treading water until November 2011. Once the election hangover has passed, the NDP will come up with something to tell Manitobans, be it new taxes, program cuts, or perhaps a new venture involving the marketing of Manitoban’s organs to the Chinese government. It’s surprising that there are no Toga parties in the NDP offices at the Legislature considering the dorm-room mentality. Why study the budget today, when you can have fun and spend? We won’t need to do any work until 2012… woo-hoo!
Ah… so there’s that hot tub again… it’s not always for time travel. Sometimes it’s just for having a good time.