MLA Report (6 February 2009)
Meetings with Municipal and School Officials
A few weeks ago I was excited to hold my second annual “Mayors Breakfast” with constituency mayors and RM representatives. In early February, I also met with representatives of the Prairie Spirit School Division. These meetings provide a great opportunity for local officials to bring their concerns directly to me and their input helps me represent your priorities at the cabinet and caucus tables.
The issues raised were similar regardless of the community – capacity issues facing our schools and education property taxes. For the town of Warman, a middle school is desperately needed. I have made the case to Education Minister, Ken Krawetz. It is not a question of “if” but “when”. Last year we announced an unprecedented $1.0 Billion infrastructure fund with part of this money going to education. Much of that money was used to catch up on the backlog of projects left by the previous administration and to address the urgent health and safety issues facing schools. With many of those capital projects addressed, the middle school for Warman is quickly moving up the list.
We have also taken steps to address the education property tax issue. In our first budget our government gave back $150 million in property tax rebates as an interim measure while a long-term solution was being formulated. Last year, the Premier appointed Rosetown-Elrose MLA, Jim Reiter, as the Legislative Secretary for this file. His report is now complete and has been delivered to the Education Minister. His findings will be part of our budget deliberations this month (Budget Day is March 18th).
There were also issues raised about other infrastructure needs facing our growing communities. At the SUMA convention held in early February, Premier Brad Wall announced the immediate release of $500 Million in infrastructure money. $100 Million of this is “no strings attached” as it will be offered to communities on a per capita basis to address their own infrastructure needs immediately.
Saskatchewan continues to grow and we are taking steps to ensure that we keep up to that growth. I value the input from your elected officials at these meetings. You should all be confident that you are represented by individuals who are absolutely committed to making your communities the very best places to live. They are a great group of people and it’s a privilege for me to be able work alongside of them.
One last note of special interest to Hepburn residents. Under the former NDP government, the village of Hepburn was the only community of its size in Saskatchewan that was not offered high speed internet through SaskTel. I am pleased that the current government took steps to rectify that and Hepburn residents now have full access to high speed DSL service from SaskTel.
Past MLA Reports