By Sarah Klein
The provincial NDP government tabled its last budget before heading into a fall election, promising tax cuts and going on a spending spree.
Finance Minister Rosann Wowchuk unveiled details of the budget Tuesday afternoon, posting a $438 million deficit for 2011-12.
Among the highlights was a reduction of overall taxes by $65 million to families and businesses, an increase to the basic personal tax exemption of $1,000 over four years, a new Children’s Arts and Cultural Activity Tax Credit, and a cap on tuition hikes at universities to the provincial rate of inflation — taking effect this year.
Wowchuk said Manitoba’s deficit would be paid off by 2014, but that’s assuming the NDP remains in power after October 4. The province’s debt continues to inflate, growing to almost $15 billion.
Other tidbits from budget day include an increase on the tax smokers pay to purchase a pack of cigarettes to two cents per cigarette, funding for 2,100 more child care spaces and 400 more nursery spaces, and the hiring of 66 additional police officers, as announced by Premier Greg Selinger on Monday.
A break down of everything included in the 2011 budget can be found on the Manitoba Finance website.