© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Wes Sheridan speaking with reporter. File Photo
Finance Minister Wes Sheridan released the province’s capital budget today, which shows government plans to spend a total $83.9 million on infrastructure this year.
But don’t look for any new capital projects that have not yet been previously announced.
That’s because government is scaling back its spending in order to return to balanced budgets by 2015.
“We have to be very cognizant of the fact that we’re not here to continue to spend money and put the province further into debt,” he told reporters this afternoon.
“There will not be (any projects) that you have not heard of before… this is what it’s all about when we’re trying to bring back capital spend to a reality."
Sheridan showed series of graphs that detailed the last several years of capital spending in P.E.I.
It showed peak spending on infrastructure projects took place in the 2009-2010 fiscal year when government spent $133 million in its capital budget.
Sheridan said this was a direct result of the worldwide recession and was part of stimulus spending to protect P.E.I.’s economy.
“We have to be very cognizant of the fact that we’re not here to continue to spend money and put the province further into debt,” Finance Minister Wes Sheridan
Over the ensuing years, the province has been spending over $100 million a year in its capital budgets to continue that stimulus.
But massive spending of this kind will not continue.
Sheridan’s five-year plan shows the province plans to return to what he calls ‘traditional levels’ of capital spending of $50-$60 million by 2017.
The projects listed in today’s capital budget include renovations to Montague Intermediate, continued work on the manor replacement program and funding for technology in Island classrooms.
These are all projects that have been previously announced.
Just over $39 million has been allocated to the Department Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, most of which will go toward highways and bridges.
More to come, a full report will be published in the print edition of The Guardian on Thursday.