SARM Responds to 2006 Provincial Budget

“Addressing some of the recommendations in the Vicq report ties in with the Clearing the Path initiative to better Saskatchewan’s business climate,” said SARM President David Marit. “This, along with the increases to the Highway’s budget, will help expand economic opportunities in rural Saskatchewan.”

 Education Tax on Agriculture Property – At the 2006 SARM Annual Convention, the Premier assured delegates that his Birch Hills announcement of March 3 on the reduction of education tax on agriculture property would immediately achieve a 60/40 split that would be long-term and sustainable. Today’s announcements indicate that the 60/40 split may not be immediate. With the increase in the education budget today not addressing the cost of inflation, increasing mill rates are now a concern.

“Our understanding was that the relief for agriculture producers would be immediate,” said President Marit. “We will be seeking clarification on this issue.” Agriculture – Both the Provincial and Federal budgets lacked new funding for the farm income crisis. The financial crisis is mounting on the farm and many Saskatchewan farmers won’t have the cash flow they need to seed the crop. President Marit said, “We appreciate that Minister Wartman has organized a delegation of farm leaders to approach the federal government to fund an immediate ad-hoc payment to Saskatchewan farmers. However, we must continue to stress that the situation is critical and we are only two weeks away from seeding in this province. Immediate provincial and federal funding is needed.

Revenue Sharing – “We were pleased with the funding increase for rural revenue sharing. These added funds will assist municipalities in meeting the increasing demands of maintaining our roads and bridges,” said President Marit. “Quality rural infrastructure is vital to Saskatchewan’s economic growth.”

Highways – The announced increase to the budget for Highways is welcomed news in rural Saskatchewan. With the Prairie Grain Roads Program ending, and the Canada-Saskatchewan Infrastructure Program due to end in 2007, SARM encourages the Province to continue to seek a new federal program. While highways expenditures are increasing, rural infrastructure funding will still be required as the current federal programs will soon be gone. The planned expansion of the Primary Weights Corridor is encouraging. “An expansion of the primary weights corridor would fit in to the goals of the Clearing the Path program,” said President Marit.

For more information contact:

David Marit                Ken Engel

President                  Executive Director

(306) 476-7754         (306) 536-2948