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On eve of Budget 2024, province drops some further hints

Premier Scott Moe calls it a “classroom, care and communities budget” that will be delivered Wednesday by Finance Minister Donna Harpauer.

REGINA -  The 2024 provincial budget is to be delivered Wednesday, but the government has already spilled some of the beans on a number of key items in the budget.

The province has already released the numbers for the education budget and for municipal revenue sharing in advance. This week on social media, Premier Scott Moe provided some further broad hints this week on what the 2024 budget will contain -- in particular, on the theme of this year's budget. 

In a video posted on the X platform, Moe is seen pointing to record investments as he referred to what will be presented Wednesday as a “classrooms, care and communities” budget:

“This budget will deliver the largest ever increase in school operating funding, $180 million or nearly nine per cent. It will deliver the largest ever increase in municipal revenue sharing for Saskatchewan communities: cities, towns, villages, and RMs will be up $42 million or about 14 per cent. And it will deliver the largest increase in healthcare funding in Saskatchewan history, up $726 million or more than 10 per cent.”

“Classrooms, care, and communities. Those are the priorities of this year‘s provincial budget.”

Many of those numbers were already known prior to the budget. Premier Moe has announced the $180 million figure in school operating funding in a video posted a couple of weeks ago in advance of the budget, in the hopes of getting the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation back to the bargaining table. And Moe had announced the $42 million increase in municipal revenue sharing during his speech last Thursday at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities convention in Regina.

On Tuesday afternoon shortly after 3 p.m., Finance Minister Donna Harpauer met reporters in the Legislature for the arrival of the first box of budget documents. 

She wasn’t able to share a lot of public details about what is inside the still-embargoed budget document, but she did share her own feelings about what it would be. 

“I am confident with our budget, and we’ve listened to the people of Saskatchewan. Hopefully everyone in Saskatchewan can see something that they feel good about in this budget.”

As for what kind of reaction she expects to it, “you never know what that reaction is going to be. But there are certain areas that I think it’s important that we’ve addressed.”

This is the seventh and final budget Harpauer will present in the legislature, as she is not seeking re-election. Harpauer admitted to having “mixed feelings” about this being her last budget. 

“You’ll see tomorrow that there’s things that I’d hoped to do that I spoke to you in the past that we’re not in a fiscal position to do yet. However, I do feel very confident in the decisions we did make in our fiscal situation.”

When asked if those things she was referring to were the lowering of the PST and the creation of a Sovereign Wealth Fund, Harpauer replied “yes.”