**Updated** N.S. Liberals bring in middle class tax cut, surplus in pre-election budget

**Updated at 4:35 p.m., Thursday, April 27th** 

Nova Scotia's Liberal government is bringing in a broad middle class tax cut as it tables a 2017-18 budget with a $25.9 million surplus, seeding the ground for what many believe is an imminent election call.

The surplus in the $10.5-billion budget means back-to-back surpluses for the government despite finishing fiscal 2016-17 with a $129-million spending spree.

The government is pledging to reduce taxes by an average of $160 for more than 500,000 Nova Scotians by increasing the basic personal exemption by up to $3,000 for taxable income up to $75,000 beginning Jan. 1 of next year.

As a result, an additional 60,000 people will no longer pay provincial income taxes.

There are a wide array of spending increases, including $3.7-million to add 30 new sites with early learning programs for four-year-olds.

The province is also offering $5.1-million more for home care and $3.2 million to restore previous cuts to nursing home food and recreational budgets.


Highlights from 2017-2018 Budget for Northern Nova Scotia (via the Government of Nova Soctia): 


Highlights in Budget 2017-2018 for northern Nova Scotia include:
-- upgrades to Highway 104 in Antigonish County - Paq'tnkek
-- funding for a new Primary to Grade 4 school in Bible Hill and a new Primary to Grade 12 school in Tatamagouche 
-- renovations to River Hebert District High School in Cumberland County and Frank H. MacDonald Elementary School, Sutherlands River, Pictou County 
-- a skilled trades centre at Amherst High School
-- funding for emergency room expansion and pharmacy redevelopment at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow 
-- funding for the North Cumberland Health Centre project  
-- funding for the construction of a new trades innovation centre at the NSCC Pictou campus
-- off-highway vehicle pilot projects in Amherst and Sherbrooke, Guysborough Co.

Northern Nova Scotia will also benefit from provincewide investments including:
-- reducing taxes for more than 500,000 people through an increase of up to $3,000 to the basic personal amount, for incomes up to $75,000
-- increasing the small business tax threshold to $500,000 from $350,000, reducing taxes for 1,800 small businesses
-- support for the recruitment and retention of doctors
-- a three-year investment in SHIFT: Nova Scotia's Action Plan for an Aging Population
-- funding to increase access to affordable housing, in partnership with the federal government
-- a new target to reduce red tape for businesses
-- enhancements to the Graduate to Opportunity program to help recent graduates land their first job in Nova Scotia
-- 30 new pre-primary sites with early learning programming for four-year-olds with a plan to expand to provincewide in four years
-- funding to hire school psychologists and speech pathologists
-- the expansion of the reading recovery program in schools and an increased investment in coding and computer skills initiatives for Primary to Grade 12 students
-- improvements to rural Internet access


Highlights from the 2017-2018 Nova Scotia Budget (via the Nova Scotia Government)


Budget investments in infrastructure include:

-- major highway projects and four new interchanges on 100-series highways, part of a seven-year plan to twin three sections of 100 series highways

-- new and upgraded health-care facilities in Halifax, Dartmouth and Hants County to support the QEII redevelopment project

-- repairing and rebuilding gravel roads - $10 million each year of a new multi-year program

-- new schools in Spryfield, Tatamagouche, Bridgetown, Bible Hill, Sheet Harbour, Eastern Passage, Dartmouth, Halifax and Yarmouth

-- $40 million for municipal clean water and waste water projects

-- $38 million for affordable housing, including creating new affordable housing units and improving affordable housing options, in partnership with the federal government.


Budget investments in youth and jobs include:

-- $3.7 million to add 30 new pre-primary sites with early learning programming for four-year-olds with a plan to extend it provincewide in four years

-- $1.7 million more for the Graduate to Opportunity program and $1.7 million to fund a new program for employers to hire recent master's and PhD graduates

-- $1.3 million to eliminate the tuition apprentices pay for technical training

-- $2.1 million for coding and computer skills and to expand the Reading Recovery Program to 73 more schools

-- $1.8 million to increase community and mental health supports for students, through the SchoolsPlus program

-- $1.4 million for additional school psychologists and speech-language pathologists

-- $800,000 to support families with children with autism through a new pilot program and regional centres.


Budget investments in new ideas for a better economy include:

-- reducing taxes for 1,800 small businesses by increasing the small business tax threshold to $500,000 from $350,000

-- $14.5 million for rural high-speed Internet

-- $1.3 million to increase opportunities for more export and trade, including a new export accelerator program

-- $4 million to support innovation initiatives, including a new rebate program and more support for business startups

-- $500,000 in additional funding to double the Small Business Development program

-- $2 million to revitalize the province's key tourism sites

-- $2.1 million to support the new Culture Action Plan.


Budget investments in supports for an aging population include:

-- $395,000 to establish a social innovation lab focused on aging

-- $50,000 for a community Internet/digital literacy training project

-- $30,000 to promote entrepreneurship for older adults

-- $3.2 million to increase food budgets and enhance recreational programming for residents in long-term care facilities

-- $250,000 more for the Seniors Safety and Age-Friendly Community grant programs

-- $7.9 million to meet the needs of Nova Scotians age 65 and older enrolled in the Seniors Pharmacare Program.


Budget investments in healthy people and communities include:

-- reducing taxes for more than 500,000 people in the middle class and people who need it most by increasing the basic personal amount by up to $3,000, effective Jan. 1, 2018

-- $2 million to create and begin to implement a plan to address poverty in Nova Scotia

-- advancing plans for satellite dialysis units at hospitals in Bridgewater, Kentville, Digby and Glace Bay, and expanding dialysis services in Halifax and Dartmouth

-- $5.1 million more for home care, including increases for the self-managed care and the caregiver benefit programs

-- $6 million to advance new collaborative care teams across the province

-- $1.2 million increase to help foster parents meet the day-to-day needs of the children in their care

-- $2.4 million more to support recruitment and retention of doctors

-- $3.7 million more to provide additional orthopedic surgeries and offer prehabilitation services to help people prepare for surgery

-- $3.2 million to enhance mental health programs

-- $3.9 million to support more people with disabilities to live independently in the community

-- $1.1 million to continue work to address sexual violence.