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EDITORIAL: Don’t be fooled

Premier Dwight Ball at the Emera Innovation Exchange (MUN Battery Campus) facility on Signal Hill Road in St. John’s on Friday morning.
Premier Dwight Ball and his government have made a string of budget announcements this week in the not-so-subtle lead-up to a provincial election. — Telegram file photo

Are you feeling full?

Are you filled to the brim after a week of government largesse?

You can be forgiven if you’re experiencing that bellyful-of-turkey-and-red-wine satiation and are ready for a nice long nap.

It’s been quite a week and quite a lot of stuffing.

But try and stay awake. There’s a lot at stake.

On Monday, there was $6.5 million in capital renovation grants for child care service providers, and $2.5 million for fish plant workers — should they need it.

Tuesday? a pledge of $129 million for municipal infrastructure.

On Wednesday, eight long-term care beds were promised for St. Anthony, not to mention the showstopping announcement that, at long last, a new prison is in the works, with $600,000 this year for its planning.

There was seed money for the Community Garden Support Program, pardon the pun.

There was also the promise that, not only would Thursday bring a funding announcement, but a “significant” funding announcement, as well.

One could hardly wait.

And there it was — $3.5 million for an expansion of the Holyrood Marine Base. There was also $200,000 for the 2020 Summer Games and $203,223 for the Princess Sheila NaGeira Theatre in Carbonear.

As this was being written on Friday, one could only marvel at what the end of the week might bring — maybe more budget tidbits before the budget’s even tabled.

Premier Dwight Ball has said there will be a provincial election before the end of the school year on June 27, which means there could be 60 days or more of lavish spending ahead.

These are all worthy projects. But you have to wonder, in a province that’s seeing businesses close, its population shrinking and aging, with high unemployment and an already gruelling rate of taxation, where all the money’s coming from.

Oh, and did we mention Muskrat Falls?

There’s a $12.7-billion bill coming due, and the government has yet to explain where it’s getting the $744 million a year required to keep electricity rates close to the current level once Muskrat Falls comes online.

In her year-end report of March 31, 2018, auditor general Julia Mullaley warned there were rough waters ahead.

“Budget 2018 forecasted employment would drop from 224,100 persons in 2017 to 214,800 persons by 2022. This is a decrease of 9,300 persons over a five-year period…” she wrote. “While only one of a number of factors that impact tax revenues, this will negatively impact personal income tax revenue and will also impact retail sales with an associated negative impact on HST revenue and other consumption taxes such as gasoline tax.”

So, the public purse will have to be tightened yet again as the economy and the workforce contracts.

Perhaps someone should remind the Liberal government of that as they toss out taxpayers’ dollars like ticker tape.

Premier Dwight Ball has said there will be a provincial election before the end of the school year on June 27, which means there could be 60 days or more of lavish spending ahead.

Just don’t forget it’s your money fuelling the shopping spree.

Are you feeling full?

Perhaps “fed up” is the better expression.

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