Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
It’s a surplus! (Except for that $11 billion we owe.)
So the NDP are doing some pre-budget ramp-up that involves touting a steady-as-she-goes budget that makes good on small tax cut promises and makes education a priority.
They are also crowing about a $316 million surplus expected when this budget year runs out at the end of the month.
There are three things you should know about that:
- Most of that surplus will be Manitoba Hydro, which is having a great year.
- The province dipped into its rainy-day fund to the tune of $98 million. That’s the savings account many already fear is too weak to see the province through a real recession.
- The province might have paid $110 million on its debt, according to its quarterly report released earlier this week, but total debt went up. The net debt increased by $1 billion – that’s not even the real debt, which is an elusive number that I always struggle to tease out of any government financial report.
The net debt is an artificial number that reflects assets minus debt, like if you took your paycheque and all the assets you own and compared that to all your debts. For the last few prosperous years province has pointed to that number as being on the decline, that they are taking in more revenue than they are taking on debt. Not anymore. Net debt and real borrowing are both up.
Anyway, saying Manitoba has a $316 million surplus is like saying I have $50 extra this month because I dipped into my business account, cashed in some RRSPs and racked up my Mastercard.
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More Welch's Gripe Juice
More Welch's Gripe Juice
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About Mary Agnes Welch
Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first as a general assignment reporter and then covering city hall and the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter.
Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.
Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school, has won several Western Ontario Newspaper Awards and has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.
She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.
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