The trouble with the budget

Scott Clark and Peter DeVries explain how to fix the budget process.

The use of Budget Omnibus Bills has grown to the point that they seriously undermine the credibility of the budget process and the authority of Parliament.  There is a clear lack of transparency and accountability.  There is an urgent need to restore the role of Parliament and its committees in assessing, reviewing and approving proposed legislation. Without sufficient information and clear intention of the proposed initiatives, Parliament and its Committees cannot properly assess the budget.  Parliamentary debate is stifled, public involvement ignored and the implementation of good public policy prevented.

The budget needs to be much more explicit on the proposed policy initiatives, providing sufficient details and background information on the proposed initiatives for Parliamentary assessment and for a better understanding by the public at large. Budget Omnibus Bills should be restricted to proposed tax changes only and all proposed spending initiatives should be presented either through the Main Estimates or through separate legislation, submitted to the applicable Parliamentary Committee for review.

Separately, they also pan the finance committee’s pre-budget consultations.