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Mayor says provincial budget a bad deal for Winnipeg

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Mayor Sam Katz and three of his top lieutenants are all denouncing the 2012 provincial budget as a bad deal for the City of Winnipeg and Manitoba municipalities.

Katz and Couns. Justin Swandel (St. Norbert), Scott Fielding (St. James) and Russ Wyatt (Transcona) made the trip from city hall to the Manitoba Legislature to reissue the city’s chief complaint: Infrastructure funding is lacking, they claim.

The budget unveiled Tuesday calls for the province to spend and additional $113.5 million on Winnipeg infrastructure this year, up $14.5 million from 2011. The cash is pegged to an increase in provincial sales tax revenue, the province says.

Katz, who has been calling for a greater share of growth revenues since 2005, said this will not help the city tackle an infrastructure deficit estimated in the billions. He also expressed dismay a gasoline-tax increase will be used to fund provincial infrastructure.

The Selinger government plans to raise $48.6 million over the next fiscal year by raising provincial gas taxes 2.5 cents on May 1, from 11.5 cents per litre to 14 cents per litre.

Provincial Finance Minister Stan Struthers said the revenue will be devoted to infrastructure, but budget documents show capital spending on infrastructure and transportation will decrease $99 million this year, from $751 million to $650 million.

Provincial officials insist they are in fact spending more on infrastructure even though this is not expressed in budget documents.

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