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Nova Scotia PCs unveil new spending, promise balanced budget with few details on cuts

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WATCH ABOVE: The Progressive Conservative platform promises tens of millions in new spending with little explanation of where cuts will be made to keep the budget in balance – May 11, 2017

The Progressive Conservative platform promises tens of millions in new spending with little explanation of where cuts will be made to keep the budget in balance.

The platform promises to spend the projected surpluses for the next four years but stay out of the red. It’s also reallocating money promised under the Liberals to other programs.

They first told reporters the total cost over four years was $648.9 million – but later called to say the actual cost was $168.9 million.

READ MORE: Complete Nova Scotia election coverage

“I’m proud to release our vision of a more prosperous, more confident Nova Scotia,” Leader Jamie Baillie told a group of Tory candidates and party faithful.

Over four years the plan includes $124 million to bring back the film tax credit, $276.7 million to increase the basic personal exemption for income tax and $32.8 million to reverse cuts to long term care. The party says their budgeting includes a $120 million rainy day fund over four years.

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However, the rainy day fund isn’t costed into their budget. Instead the party says it will find the money for a contingency fund through savings elsewhere in government.

Finding the savings

The party says it will meet those commitments while also balancing the budget by cutting some Liberal promises. However, Baillie could only point to cutting $400,000 for Engage Nova Scotia as an example of where the savings will come.

“There’s a long list of those that we’re going to go through the budget and reverse,” said Baillie, without providing that list to reporters.

The party later provided a list that included moving money for rural high speed internet and gravel roads from the operational budget to the capital budget.

READ MORE: Liberals field the most men, Tories the most white candidates in Nova Scotia election

The party says other examples of places where savings will come include renegotiating the Yarmouth ferry contract, finding more savings in health care administration, and “ending corporate welfare,” — none of those projected savings had dollar figures attached.

“In health care I believe there’s millions and millions,” said Baillie. “Nova Scotians supported the consolidation of the health authority and so did we by the way because we were told that there would be savings and those savings would flow into front-line care. That has yet to happen, I think the health authority is out of control.”

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No layoffs, no tax hikes

The PC leader ruled out any layoffs or cuts to departments saying “there’s been enough cutting, those are actual services like health and education.”

He also rejected any tax hikes. “I am not interested in that,” said Baillie. “The cost of living is something I want to lower, not in any way add to.”

The well used new government line that the books are worse than first thought is also off the table he said.

“I will never use that sad old excuse that I didn’t know the state of the books after we got in,” said Baillie.

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