June 14, 2016

NDP Get It Wrong on Education Funding, Property Tax Relief

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A little over a week ago, a report from the Fraser Institute came out highlighting that Tax Freedom Day in Saskatchewan comes four weeks earlier this year than it did a decade ago, thanks to a record $6 billion in tax relief provided since our government took office.  Tax Freedom Day is the date that the average Canadian family would have their total tax bill considered paid-up if all their income went first to cover their federal, provincial, and municipal taxes.  Nationally, Saskatchewan ranks second best among the provinces.

This is in stark contrast to over a decade ago; tax revolts were erupting across the province, some even taking place around this time 12 years ago.  Everyday Saskatchewan people were tired of being nickel-and-dimed by the NDP government of the day, and weren’t going to take it anymore.  Who can forget the scene of hundreds of farm vehicles converging in Regina with thousands of people who had had enough of the NDP’s tax hikes and made their voices heard at the Legislature.

The record tax relief by our government includes the largest education property tax cuts in Saskatchewan history.  Over $120 million went back into the pockets of Saskatchewan people, urban and rural.  Agricultural ratepayers alone saw their education property tax reduced by 80%.

Our government delivered that record tax cut to Saskatchewan people, while also increasing education operating funding by over 33% since 2007.  It was odd then to see the NDP raise the issue of education operating funding last week in the legislature, where they alleged that the government hasn’t actually increased operating funding to education.  As with other NDP criticism we need to correct the record.

The NDP accused the government of including education property taxes it now collects as a “fake increase” in operational funding.  In reality we have lowered taxes and increased operational funding in real terms and as a percentage of the province’s share.  In fact, their accusation is completely false.  When you remove education property tax, the provincial operating grant to school divisions has gone up 73.6% since 2007.

As if that wasn’t enough, just after this year’s budget was released, the NDP complained about the total education funding increase of 7.9%, saying it wasn’t enough.  The NDP conveniently forgot to mention their own election platform would have only increased funding by 1.1%.

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When it comes to ensuring taxes are fair and affordable for everyday Saskatchewan families, as well as properly funding our kids’ schools, people in our province can count on our government to deliver more than just talk, they can look to our record of continued increases in operating funding, 40 new schools, and renovations to over half the province’s schools.

When the NDP had a chance to make a lasting impact on education for children in this province, they closed 176 schools and cut operational funding.  Saskatchewan families just can’t afford the NDP’s rhetoric and empty promises this time around.

Bronwyn Eyre is the MLA for Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota
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