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Legislative Report (11 January 2006)

Legislative Report

11 January 2006
Premier Calvert to Blame for Education Tax Revolt
We are pledged to do away with the education tax as soon as we get new sources of revenue to take the place of the revenue now realized from that tax. (Tommy Douglas, August 31, 1944)

That NDP promise is now almost 62 years old. And sadly, the people of rural Saskatchewan are still waiting on the NDP to make good on it. Based on what weve seen and heard recently, dont hold your breath.

More than a third of rural municipalities--over 100 in allhave joined the protest to withhold property taxes from school boards. This is a desperate act by rural families who have seen the value of what they produce go down, and their taxes go up. Deciding to break the law is not an easy decision for law-abiding citizens to make. However, these people have seen the Calvert NDP swimming in oil and natural gas revenues, while failing to provide substantive long-term property tax relief. The ad hoc measures taken by the NDP so far have failed to fix this problem. As a result of re-assessment, many rural property owners in Saskatchewan are actually paying more in education taxes, even with the current rebate factored in.

And what does the Calvert NDP have to say? The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Len Taylor, says Nothing will make us more aware or move more quickly (Leader Post January 5, 2006 pg. B1). Taylor also says providing more relief is not simple, and a more permanent fix wont come until 2007. These sentiments were echoed in year-end interviews conducted by Mr. Calvert, who said a plan will be introduced in 2006 for implementation in 2007.

Isnt that convenient. The Premier also openly speculates on Spring 2007 being an election year. So, once again we have a government cynically waiting until it can maximize the political gains while ordinary families suffer.

Im reminded of comments made in January of 2004 by NDP Finance Minister Harry Van Mulligen. He said his government knew it would be increasing taxes, but chose not to talk about hose possibilities during the 2003 election campaign, because that would have hurt the NDPs chances of getting re-elected. I suspect that anyone who talks about tax hikes is not likely to be very popular during the course of an election campaign, Van Mulligen said.

The Saskatchewan Party does not condone law breaking. However, we understand that rural people have been pushed to the wall by a government that doesnt seem to care. Lets lay the blame for this tax revolt where it belongs: at the feet of NDP Leader Lorne Calvert.

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