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Ches Crosbie says Liberal budget would not have held up to scrutiny

Flanked by Tory candidates for the May 16 provincial election, Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie speaks to reporters Monday on the steps of Confederation Building before hitting the campaign trail in his blue bus.
Flanked by Tory candidates for the May 16 provincial election, Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie speaks to reporters Monday on the steps of Confederation Building before hitting the campaign trail in his blue bus. - Joe Gibbons
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie said a “snap election” was called because the Liberals knew their budget would not stand up to scrutiny.

Crosbie said the budget could have been debated and voted on with time for an election campaign before school ended.

Outside of Confederation Building in St. John’s Monday, Crosbie said the Liberals’ “reckless fiscal approach” over the past four years has been marked by overtaxing, overspending and excessive borrowing while allowing billions in potential economic activity and fair federal transfers to be lost.

Last week’s budget, the Liberal government's final budget before the May 16 general election announcement, saw a $1.92-billion surplus — but the surplus had more to do with the Atlantic Accord than it does changes in how the province is managed.

Discounting the money to be received from the Atlantic Accord in the future, the surplus becomes a deficit of approximately $570 million.

The massive surplus is more of an accounting function than a direct reflection of the province's finances. Officials with the Department of Finance said the $2.5 billion in guaranteed revenue from the Atlantic Accord must be accounted for in the first year it is received because there are no restrictions on how the money can be spent by the provincial government.

The 2019 budget accounts for $134 million of the money in this fiscal year, with the remaining Atlantic Accord money flowing until 2056.

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