Highlights of the Saskatchewan budget

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REGINA – Some highlights from the 2014-2015 Saskatchewan budget:

The bottom line: Revenue of $14.07 billion and spending of $14 billion, leaving thin surplus of $71 million.

Taxes and fees: No tax increases. Ten licensing, regulation and monitoring fees for oil and gas sector to be rolled into one levy.

Savings: Plans to create a savings fund, but no money to go in until the $3.8-billion debt is paid off. A report done for the province last fall said the fund should be a priority.

Health: Overall three per cent increase to health budget to bring total to nearly $5 billion. Includes $60.5 million for surgical wait-list initiative.

Seniors: $800,000 to develop a new house-call program for seniors with health issues in an effort to keep them out of hospitals.

Children: $2.2 million for 500 new child-care spaces.

Education: $815,000 to implement an anti-bullying and cyberbullying plan.

Sports: $50 million for a new stadium in Regina.

Justice: Creation of a Counsel for Children Office, something recommended by children’s advocates after Social Services placed a little girl with her drug addicted, abusive grandfather who had 70 criminal convictions.

The books: Saskatchewan is moving to present only a summary budget. The government used to use both a summary budget and a budget for the general revenue fund that didn’t include all areas of government. The auditor had repeatedly said having two sets of books was misleading.

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