The spring sitting of the first session of the 27th legislature commenced on March 5, 2012 and on March 21 Finance Minister, Ken Krawetz presented the province's budget for 2012-2013. The title of the budget was Keeping the Saskatchewan Advantage. Many of the new program announcements were keeping with the Saskatchewan Party election platform. Some of the budget dollars were allocated to programs such as the expansion of the Saskatchewan Assured Income Disability program, increasing number of child care spaces and the establishment the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship Program that provides high school graduates from 2012 onwards with up to $2000 over four years to be applied toward tuition fees at any Saskatchewan postsecondary institution.
The Opposition criticized the Government for raising the maximum prescription drug payment by $5 per prescription for seniors, increasing student tuition and the elimination of the Film Employment Tax Credit. Furthermore, Opposition Finance Critic, Trent Wotherspoon, questioned the income projections as well as financial accounting practices of the Government.
One of the more contested pieces of legislation of the first session was Bill No. 36--The Constituency Boundaries Amendment Act, 2011. The Bill allows for an increase in constituencies from 58 to 61. The Opposition took exception to the increase citing many reasons including that it was not in the Government's election campaign, it does not take into account youth under the age of 18, it is very costly and constituents are not asking for more politicians.
Bill No. 36 was one of two proposed laws that the Opposition used every available means under the rules to delay passage. In the end, the bill was required by the standing orders to be voted on the day before the conclusion of the spring sitting. In total the Lieutenant Governor, gave royal assent to 44 bills including an Appropriation Bill, which was the final stage in the passage of the government's budgetary estimates.
Committee inquiry of Lobbying Legislation
On December 7, 2011, the Standing Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice received an Order of Reference from the Legislature. The Committee met in January and adopted the Steering Committee's report which outlined the plans for the committee's inquiry regarding lobbying in Saskatchewan. The committee travelled to Ottawa in February 2012. The Committee observed the House of Commons Standing Committee on...