REGINA – Some highlights from the 2015-16 Saskatchewan budget:
The bottom line: $14.3 billion in revenue and spending of $14.2 billion, both up 1.2 per cent compared with last year. Surplus of $107 million. Oil revenue down $661 million from last year’s budget.
This year’s budget hinges on oil averaging US$53 a barrel in 2015 and $67 a barrel in 2016. The price has hovered around $40 a barrel this week.
Taxes: No tax or fee increases, but changes to a handful of tax credit programs to save money. The government is also signaling that the education portion of property tax bills could rise in the coming years, as mill rates have not been adjusted for inflation or to pay for teachers’ wage increases.
Kids in sports: Active Families Benefit, which applies to families registering children in sports and other activities, will apply to families with combined net incomes below $60,000. Previously there was no income threshold.
Graduates who stay in Saskatchewan: Graduate Retention Program, which provided tuition refunds of up to $20,000 to graduates who stayed in Saskatchewan, is being changed to a non-refundable tax credit.
Seniors: Income threshold to be eligible for the Seniors’ Drug Plan is being reduced to around $65,500. Previously seniors who made just over $80,000 were eligible.
Potash: Changes to tax deductions for the potash industry are expected to increase the government’s take by $150 million. The government is also planning a review of the potash royalty structure.
Small businesses: Small Business Loans Association program is winding down and won’t offer new loans.
Business tax incentives: Manufacturing and Processing Exporter Tax Incentive gives tax credits to eligible exporters increasing the number of employees at the head-office level. Incentive will also apply to companies involved in commercial development of interactive digital media and creative industry products. There is another incentive in the form of a rebate for steel producers making capital investments of at least $100 million.