Higgs on balanced budget cont'd:
In our platform, the government committed to a deficit reduction plan. Last year, we committed to a three-year plan to return to budget balance.
With today’s budget, we have taken major strides in achieving these objectives.
It is government’s intention to return to balance in 2014-2015 as originally stated. In addition to our 2012-2013 deficit of $183 million, the following table outlines our plan to return to a balanced budget.
Higgs on balanced budget cont'd:
Mr. Speaker, our three-year projections reflect modest growth in total revenue. They also include a spending plan that reflects decisions in today's budget that help curtail our base level of spending, and growth, into the future.
Do we have more work to do? Yes, we certainly do.
Government will need to be diligent to help foster growth in the economy, to implement our plan, and to manage spending closely in order to achieve the plan. And government will need to continue to consider further measures over the next few years.
Higgs on fiscal situation Alward gov't inheirited:
Mr. Speaker, the grim fiscal situation our government inherited has resulted in a process of difficult decisions being made to start our province on the path to fiscal sustainability. New Brunswick business and citizens have advised us to return to balance by generating additional revenues through a combination of sustainable economic growth policies, raising fees or taxes where fair and efficient, and reducing expenditures and increasing efficiency.
Today's budget continues this process by changing the culture of government to providing the efficient, affordable services that our citizens pay taxes to receive. It contains a balance of revenue and spending measures to achieve this goal, but is only the first step in our three-year plan to return to sustainable balanced budgets.
Higgs on moving forward:
Focusing the culture of government on core services and raising accountability through continuous performance improvement and publicly available indicators of success are our goals.
But we also need to change the culture of public expectations and how services are delivered. It is important we keep the lines of communication open so that New Brunswickers can see that government is receptive to meeting their needs and expectations. But we must also demonstrate we are acting on the ideas and suggestions we receive to produce substantive change.
Mr. Speaker, today we are putting a plan forward that continues to reflect our belief in people and the balanced approach to fiscal sustainability. We, as politicians, must also live up to the high standards of performance that we require and are expecting from others.
In this budget you do not see the arbitrary short-sighted decisions that we have seen from many past governments.
To ensure our plan works in a methodical and constructive manner, all individuals must ask themselves: "What can I do to help?" or "How can I modify my demands or my behaviour to make a positive difference?" Together we can and will achieve our goals.
House is adjourned. Stay tuned for more coverage and reaction.
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