Stop me if you think you've heard this one before
Finance Minister Tom Marshall has a hilarious sense of humour, telling the CBC's Rob Antle:
The next review — called a “core mandate analysis” — will be part of a decade-long process to get the province’s books in order, according to Finance Minister Tom Marshall.Ever-so-modestly, a government that is constitutionally bound to a five-year term, and statutorily bound to a four-year one, starting from last year, is planning ten years in advance.
“We have to know that our spending is going to get down to a level [where] our spending is going to be sustainable,” Marshall said.
But wait! There's more!
After months of tough talk about belt-tightening, Marshall defended the relatively light touch. The deficit is expected to be $258.4 million in 2012-13.Attrition... a quarter of the civil service... where have we heard that before?
“We could have done it in one year,” he told reporters Tuesday morning, before delivering his budget speech. “We could have cut $258 million, and cut a lot of jobs. We decided that we’re not doing it in one or two years. We decided that we’re going to have a 10-year plan and that we’re going to get where we have to be over that time.”
Marshall indicated that some savings could be realized through attrition. He noted that 24 per cent of the core civil service will be eligible to retire over the next five years. Other workers, he said, will depart of their own accord for the private sector.
Right! In the 2003 platform that Marshall and Whatsername and Whatisname before her were all elected under, which pledged:
Approximately 40% of all government expenditures goes towards salaries and employee benefits. Over the next five years, approximately 25% of the public service will be eligible for retirement. A Progressive Conservative government will use this five-year period to reduce the size of the public sector through attrition.Of course, this was the same 2003 Bull Sheet that promised:
In order to stabilize government's fiscal position, a Progressive Conservative government proposes the following policies:Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hoo, boy. Good one!
- Keeping real program spending constant by limiting the annual growth in spending to the anticipated growth in inflation. New needs that arise will be accommodated within this budget constraint.
Antle saved the best of Marshall's humour for last, though:
“Obviously, our 10-year plan will recalibrate from time to time,” he said.Translation: “Just like every one of our other 'plans' and 'strategies', we will continue to re-package the things government intends to do anyway, call it a 'plan' or a 'strategy', or maybe a 'strategic plan', and still make it all up as we go along (on a go-forward basis, naturally)”.