MHA says deep budget cuts could have been avoided

James McLeod
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Tom Osbourne

It didn’t have to be this way, Independent MHA Tom Osborne told The Telegram this week. With better planning and budget foresight, the government could have avoided cuts.

Osborne said the government has known for years that a fiscal crunch was coming, but it kept spending — and Osborne should know; up until last year, he was a member of the PC Party.

“Sitting around the caucus table in 2008 and 2009, we were talking as a caucus that there was going to be a decrease in oil production, and a decrease in oil revenues, and the Atlantic Accord transfers were going to run out. Yet the budget continued to grow. That’s the point that I’m making,” he said. “With the proper management, we could have been in the position where we had a slightly smaller budget without having to make the cuts today.”

Osborne doesn’t think it should’ve come to this, but he said this week that he believes this year’s budget cuts were necessary.

As the Liberals and the NDP move to condemn the deep budget cuts and layoffs, and the government struggles to defend its course of action, Osborne is walking a middle ground.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I will make a decision on which way I’m going to vote on the budget when the time comes to vote.”

On the one hand, he said, the government can’t just keep running big deficits.

“You can’t mortgage the province’s future and have our children and our grandchildren pay for what we’re spending today,” he said. “We do need sustainable spending; absolutely we need sustainable spending.”

Osborne said he’s still digesting the specific budget cuts, and he’s not convinced that all the layoffs were the right move.

But more broadly, he balked at the notion of the government’s new 10-year fiscal sustainability plan.

“The 10-year sustainability plan, as government calls it, … this government has been in power for 10 years, and their planning to date doesn’t give me any comfort or reassurance that this new 10-year plan is going to be effective,” Osborne said. “We’ve got a budget that’s doubled from approximately $4 billion to approximately $8 billion in eight or nine years. We’ve got a public service that’s increased by 24-25 per cent over that period of time.”

As Osborne weighs his options as an independent, he’s in the process of gauging public support for him to join up with either the New Democrats or the Liberals.

This month, he’ll be sending out his district newsletter, which asks people to get in touch and tell him which party to pick. Already, he’s been talking to plenty of folks and gauging opinions.

“Every day, without exception since I became an independent, I’ve thought about the decision,” Osborne said.

He said he doesn’t want to give any hints about what he’s hearing so far, because he doesn’t want to bias people’s responses. But he did say that he’s hearing lots of people suggest he stays an independent, and among the people who want him to join a political party, a lot more people are leaning in one direction than the other.

“But I am hearing one party considerably more than I’m hearing another,” Osborne said.

He wouldn’t give any hints about which party people are pointing to.

It’s worth noting that in the 2011 provincial election, Osborne won handily with 2,966 votes, but the NDP received 1,994 votes in his district. By comparison, the Liberals got 163 votes.

Osborne said he’s waiting to hear back from more people, especially in response to his district newsletter, before he makes any decision.

Twitter: TelegramJames

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Recent comments

  • Joe
    April 07, 2013 - 15:26

    Tom, if you can't support Dunderdale, at least keep your pride and stay as you are, you will get more respect.

  • roy
    April 07, 2013 - 09:15

    Tom was in govt and is part of the problem, all of a sudden he has all the answers, maybe all govt members should sit as independent that way they will have an awakening and all our problems will be solved. I believe the Spin Doctor past finance minister Marshall should have been thrown out of office years ago. Why is he still a minister is it for pension purposes, he wouldn't predict the outcome of a game of hockey between NHL and junior bantams. Just look at his past record. If we have an increase in public service employees of 24 or 25 0/0 with decrease in population and the age of computers what's going on. I really feel for those losing their jobs , I sure as hell wouldn't want to loose my job.

  • EDfromRED
    April 06, 2013 - 17:35

    The PC's say they consulted the experts for input and advice concerning budget cuts, but this week a legal aid expert gave his advice on how the cuts are a disaster for the Justice system and was suspended! What the PC's should say, is that they want experts who will say what they want them to say. How can anyone have respect for the law and this government if someone who uses free speech gets punished? The Premier, and other government officials, will act all solemn on Remembrance Day, extolling the sacrifices made for our rights and freedoms --while taking away those same rights the next day! What a bunch of petty dictators!

  • don
    April 06, 2013 - 15:20

    Mr. Osborne, you always talked a good talk but never really provided any meaningful difference or change. Being a part of the PC party for 40 years doesn't make you a good politician. If you were any good, Danny wouldn't have kicked you out of caucus.

  • Too Funny
    April 06, 2013 - 15:13

    This guy thinks we're fools. He was a part of that government and contributed to where we are now. And now he feeling the political wind to see which party he should join. Hey, Tom, get a backbone, take a stand, stop being a floater, at least stop being a typical poltician.

  • townie gary
    April 06, 2013 - 14:02

    Tom; Another try to get your face in the paper again. LOL... Seen you more when you were selling cars @ Capital Hyundai... That way I talked to you every 10 KM or 6 months... Go back and sell cars again bud, at least you knew what that was about...

  • Redistribute Cuts
    April 06, 2013 - 13:56

    Take a look at saving big money at Nalcor's head office. This Crown Corporation has hired in the thousands (head office positions alone). This hiring is in addition to the head office staff they already had. People walking around doing nothing. Retirees hired back. Numerous staff which could have retired on excellent pensions years ago. Too many Vice-President's, too many managers, too many supervisors who are making big money. Much money is to be saved here but the provincial government are hands-off. Why? Yet, Justice, Education and Health Departments have been slashed. What's going on here?

  • Jay
    April 06, 2013 - 12:05

    What surprises me most about this whole fiasco is that more backbenchers didn't cross the floor. The lead clique of Dunderdale, Marshall, Kennedy, and Burke only seem to want input from the chosen few. It's easy to identify the lackeys who are begging to get a more influential cabinet position, but the silent backbenchers who know they're not getting into Cabinet must know their seats are in danger. I expect to see more defections before the next election

  • gerry
    April 06, 2013 - 09:41

    “You can’t mortgage the province’s future and have our children and our grandchildren pay for what we’re spending today,” he said......his provinicial & federal predecesors of all stripes & colour should have said that 10, 20, & 30 years ago...

  • NIBS
    April 06, 2013 - 08:44

    “Sitting around the caucus table in 2008 and 2009, we were talking as a caucus that there was going to be a decrease in oil production, and a decrease in oil revenues, and the Atlantic Accord transfers were going to run out. Yet the budget continued to grow." ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ And wht did you say Tom? You were in caucus, you had a voice in government - what did you say? Now you find your voice? Small, small man..

  • No NDP-ist
    April 06, 2013 - 08:44

    Go NDP and loose all my support and the support of the good Conservatives who built your career and will keep backing you. Go Liberal or stay a lndependent. I voted for you since day 1 and even campaigned for you. Turn 180 to the dark side for the NDP and you are lost.

  • Danny
    April 06, 2013 - 08:39

    About 40 yrs ago Mr.Shea decided to cross the floor...oops :( Stay independent Mr. Osborne or you may also end up as he did.

  • original Townie
    April 06, 2013 - 08:38 are things in Sleppy Hollow? Haven't heard from you in awhile. Playing that card again are we.....which party your followers think you should join? Another week of front page media advertising for you before nap time.

    • Roy206
      April 14, 2015 - 10:03

      Thanks...My sentiment exactly....and funny also...RW

    • Roy206
      April 14, 2015 - 10:06

      I'm with the other contributor...stick to selling used cars....The masses are not glued to the web awaiting your next self serving statement. RW