Both the provincial and federal budgets were released recently to a lot of fanfare and all kinds of reactions from all sides of the political arena.
As a reporter, Budget Day is kinda funny. My office gets bombarded with faxes and emails detailing all the highlights of the document, handed down from the government. After that, we get all the different takes on the budget, whether it's from the NDP, Conservatives, or any organizations with a political agenda of their own.
In other words, I get one side telling me how great a particular budget is, and another side telling me how much it sucks. The comedy never ends.
My own take on the provincial budget, to put it simply, is that I'm not surprised. We've known for a while that the province was going to be doing some belt-tightening, so come Budget Day, nothing I read was particularly shocking about the numbers or about some of the decisions made. Libraries getting the shaft as far as reduced funding goes was maybe the most eyebrow-raising thing about it, but other than that, I can't say that it's a budget that should be all that shocking to residents of Saskatchewan, especially the ones who've been paying attention to the details.
I'm not a political guy in the least, but I do support my government, and I'm in favor of Wall's budget for a couple of reasons:
1. He was open and honest before releasing it, telling people that the province had to be faithful to the economy to keep it viable and competitive, and that the proverbial belt-tightening was going to take place;
2. It tells Saskatchewan residents that we need to pay a little more for things NOW in order for the province to get back to the promised land LATER.
That second one in particular resonates the most with me. We're sitting at $6.6 billion in debt, which sounds like an absurd number by itself, but compared to almost ALL the other provinces (except PEI), we're not positioned so bad.
The measures being taken in this budget don't sit well with everyone, and I can recognize and respect that. Like I said before, libraries getting reduced funding is a bad hit, one that I don't agree with, but the overall picture looks fine in my view. A PST hike here and there? I say if the food at a restaurant is worth it, I don't mind paying extra. The Saskatchewan Transportation Company getting axed? Losing money left and right. In fact, only two routes were even posting a profit out of more than two dozen.
I look at this provincial budget as the government saying, "Look, here's where we're at right now. We need to do THIS and THIS in order to get to HERE later." What I'm hearing is Brad Wall and company asking the people of Saskatchewan to hold on and weather the storm, so to speak. While other provinces are many more billions in debt, we're better off. And I like to think that many people who call this place home see that, and that they realize that we need to weather this particular storm right now if we wanna reach the valley through the trees.
But it's politics, and for every person on board with something, there are more people who wanna complain on Facebook. And I get that. It's your right to voice your opinion and thoughts. But maybe a lot of us can look at the big picture and stay positive in this tight future we're looking at?
You told us where we're headed, Brad. Now get us there in one piece.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.