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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

How can you tell when desperation starts to set into a government? They start to circle the wagons and point fingers at everyone and everything around them. Elected officials do not want to take responsibility for their actions and they start to dream up "quick fix" schemes to get out of the jackpot they themselves have created.

The actions of the Sask Party government over the last week when it comes to educating our children is in my view the signs of a desperate government. This is the same Sask Party government that finally negotiated a contract with teachers after two failed negotiations and knew they didn't have the money to pay the contract.

Last week, school boards around Saskatchewan were told that they were going to have to find half of the salary increase out of their existing budgets. Budgets which in some cases have been cut over the preceding two budget years. School trustees and boards no longer have the taxing power to raise new revenue. They can only meet this latest government dictate by cutting services and laying off people.

This move is probably the government's justification to eliminate most of the education boards in the province. I personally have no problem with the government taking responsibility and accountability for education. The problem with this Sask Party government is, as they have demonstrated in health care, they want to pass the buck for tough decisions to someone else rather than have the elected politicians be accountable for their actions.

This is the Sask Party government that removed most of the education tax from property. In fact, they remind all of the delegates every year at the SARM convention of this move. What they do not mention to people is that they have not put in place the corresponding resources to fund education through the general tax system. There is no free ride if we are going to educate the future generations of Saskatchewan citizens so that they can compete in a world economy. We have to dedicate the resources to do that or fall behind.

This Sask Party government wants to boast to taxpayers at election time that there will be no new taxes. What they didn't tell the taxpayers is that they were simply going to borrow billions of dollars more to dump in the lap of a future government to pay the bills because Sask Party politicians don't want to face up to reality.

A growing population means a growing educational commitment. Having a large segment of our population undereducated and not able to compete in the work force will simply create social issues which will become insurmountable. The bill that we all pay because of this social breakdown of our society will be far greater than if the current Minister of Education would simply own up to the irresponsibility of his government. This Education Minister and his government need to start telling the truth about the province's finances and our wasted opportunities over the last two terms.

As every alcoholic in the world knows, the return to sobriety only occurs when you have the courage to say "I am an alcoholic and I need help". When will this government have the courage to own up to their own misspending and return to fiscal responsibility?

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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