People tend to be more concerned about a deficit of jobs than a deficit in a budget. And rightfully so.
That’s why we think the Opposition calls to balance the Nova Scotia budget immediately are wrong-headed. Graham Steele’s 2012 budget marches the province towards a balanced budget right on schedule, while continuing to keep the economy humming with fiscal stimulus dollars, including record investments in capital and training.
The Nova Scotia Budget is a Jobs Budget.
Austerity budgets do not create jobs, as the economies of Spain and Greece prove daily. Fiscal stimulus budgets, on the other hand, put people back to work, as can plainly be seen in the United States right now. Capital spending raises capital.
Unemployment is the biggest barrier to deficit reduction. Getting people back to work means they begin to pay income taxes again, they shop more (supporting local business) and they are happier, healthier and more empowered (especially if their shop is unionized). As economist John Maynard Keynes said: “Look after unemployment and the budget will look after itself.”
Home construction will also get a boost with the NDP doubling their First-Time Home Buyers Rebate to $3,000 on newly constructed homes. And investments in shipbuilding, farming, forestry, fisheries, and manufacturing are key to ensuring the economies of small town and rural Nova Scotia recover as well.
Many political pundits have looked at the fiscal discipline of the Nova Scotia NDP and suggested they are a provincial copy of Chretien’s federal Liberals. In an interview on CBC’s Maritime Morning, Graham Steele explained how steady economic guidance and social democracy are complimentary, not mutually exclusive:
Graham Steele: I was born and raised in the Praries, I grew up in Manitoba which had NDP governments throughout the time I was growing up. They weren’t perfect of course, but they were pretty good governments. And that kind of responsible, thoughtful social democracy is emblematic of our entire government starting with the Premier on down. You do the right thing for the province but you do it in a fiscally responsible way. There’s no contradiction between those two things…
Lets look at another icon, Tommy Douglas. Tommy Douglas balanced the budget and he did while bringing in things like public healthcare. We believe deeply, fundamentally, in the necessity of quality public services… in order to continue to deliver those sustainably in the future, the finances have to make sense.