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CUPE is urging the Saskatchewan government to reject the finance minister’s special committee report that calls for a 30 per cent cut in personal income taxes and a big hike in provincial sales tax.

“The committee’s proposals would put Saskatchewan’s public sector in a fiscal straitjacket and make our tax system much more regressive,” said CUPE Saskatchewan president Tom Graham.

The division argues the annual loss of $240 million in revenues would inevitably result in cutbacks to social programs, privatization and increased user fees. The cost of the tax cut plan is the equivalent of eliminating the entire highways budget, abolishing the operating grants to universities and technical institutions or slashing one-third of the acute care budget allocation.

“Taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized society,” said Graham. “The provincial government cannot slash income taxes like Mike Harris and provide well-funded social programs and public services at the same time.”

CUPE Saskatchewan supports proposals to abolish the regressive 2 per cent flat tax and remove 58,000 low-income earners from the tax rolls. But if the PST is expanded to items like children’s clothing and utility bills and if user fees rise any tax savings for the poor would be more than offset.

“While every Saskatchewan resident will receive a tax cut, the rich will be the main beneficiaries,” Graham said, pointing out that a one-income family making $75,000 will receive $2,000 more each year in tax savings than a one-income family earning $35,000.