Will Ontario's Budget Pass?
Published: April 11, 2012 1:57 pm ET
Last Comment: April 14, 2012 10:16 am ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
"The ball is now in the government's court. If the government falls it will be squarely on the shoulders of the McGuinty Liberals."
The main question on the minds of many Ontarians is whether or not the 2012 Budget will be passed by the provincial legislature. In the minds of many that falls on Andrea Horwath, leader of Ontario's New Democratic Party. Horwath, however, disagrees. When asked point blank by 570 News' Jeff Allen if the budget will be supported if the Liberals don't make any changes, Horwath shifted that decision to that of the minority government.
"I've said to the Premier, these are our ideas, we want to see them implemented," stated Horwath. "He said he'll keep an open mind, he'll wait until all of our ideas are on the table and then we'll deal with them. We've got a couple of meetings set up over the next several days to have an earnest conversation. But the ball is now in the government's court. If the government falls it will be squarely on the shoulders of the McGuinty Liberals. They know they have a minority, they know they have to work with the other parties to keep it afloat, they have not done so thus far. They didn't bring us into their budget deliberation process , they cut us out so now we're saying OK you put together a budget without us, we don't like it, here's the things we need to see changed."
Allen's show also featured PC Deputy Premier Christine Elliott and a number of callers supportive of Ontario's horse racing industry. To listen to the first hour of the Jeff Allen show, click the play button below.
Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has stuck by his guns in regard to the provincial industry and the slots-at-racetracks program. While in the Windsor area after Horwath's announcement, Premier McGuinty opted to stick to his party line and rhetoric.
When asked if the minority Ontario Liberal Government would reconsider its position on the mutually beneficial slots-at-racetracks program, Premier McGuinty was quoted by the CBC as saying, "That is 10 times the amount they spend for the horse racing industry in BC and Alberta and Manitoba combined."
Premier McGuinty went on to say, "At a time when we've got to find a way to reduce government spending, we've got to compare supporting the horse racing industry with supporting our schools and supporting our health care."
Ontario's existing slots-at-racetracks agreement sees more then $1.1-billion in direct revenue stuffed into provincial coffers each year from slot machines housed within provincial racetracks. Horse racing's $345-million cut from the machines' revenue leads to $261-million in direct tax revenue for the Ontario government; a $2-billion annual economic impact on the province, and the employment of roughly 60,000 Ontarians.
The current slots-at-racetracks program, which is the Ontario Government's most lucrative gaming venture, creates an abundance of revenue to fund Ontario's health-care and education programs.
In her announcement against the proposed budget for the Province of Ontario, Horwath stated that, “What they (Ontario voters) want to see now is the Liberal government, in its minority, to make some compromises to make sure that the budget is acceptable to at least one of the other political parties.”
As an article by Bullet News Niagara explains, Horwath's NDP party is also seeking legislative debate in regard to the Ontario Liberals' gaming modernization plan, which was tactically ushered in ahead of the budget via the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.
Although it has been brought to his party's attention time and time again, Premier McGuinty refuses to call the commercial, bilateral agreement which is the slots-at-racetracks program anything but a government subsidy. He continued to describe the contract as a subsidy this week, when he suggested that continuing to 'subsidize' Ontario's horse-racing industry would be a non-starter.
McGuinty has gone on the record as saying that he plans on officially responding to Horwath's NDP demands very soon, as early as this week.