Copyright 2014

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli talks Ontario finances in St. Marys

Waste, mismanagement and scandal.

Those will likely be the Conservative campaign buzz words in the next provincial election.

Nipissing MPP and finance critic Vic Fedeli repeated the mantra several times during a talk about the gloomy state of Ontarios finances on Wednesday at the St. Marys Golf amp; Country Club.

The breakfast event, which was hosted by Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece, drew about 20 people.

Fedeli will be travelling to other communities around Ontario to spread the message during Focus on Finance discussions as the Conservatives begin to gear up for the next election in two years.

We are a province mired in waste, mismanagement and scandal. Those are the three pillars the government is anchored on right now, he said.

Fedeli focused on the unpopular sale of 60% of Hydro One by the province as evidence of those three pillars.

They will tell you its for transit, he said. No one will argue with the needs of the province for transit and infrastructure. Having them tell you the sale of Hydro One is to offset transit and infrastructure is a complete fabrication.

He said the 2015 provincial budget laid out a plan for $130 billion to go into transit and infrastructure, and part of that money would come from gas tax and also some HST. The plan also entailed $3.1 billion in asset sales including GM shares and the sale of the LCBO warehouse.

The next year the Liberals reannounced $130 billion for infrastructure and transit but then needed the sale of Hydro One, he said.

He accused the government of playing a shell game with Hydro One money. Initially it was put into infrastructure but because the money was already there it was pulled out and then used to falsely and temporarily lower the deficit.

Theyre fluffing the books up for June 2018 so the deficit is falsely balanced, he said.

He was also critical of the governments handling of health care. Hospital budgets have been frozen for four years but costs continue to rise. As a result, hospitals have cut frontline health care workers, including 1,400 nurses, he suggested.

In his hometown of North Bay the hospital closed 60 beds.

The hospital is brand new. One-hundred and fifty-eight frontline health care workers are gone from our hospital, he said.

He added the $345 million increase in health care is not what it seems because money from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation that was once used for health care has been pulled out.

The debt continues to climb and costs continue to rise, he suggested. Hydro has gone up 20% in eight months. That kind of increase should have taken a decade, he said.

This month of July Ontario will hit $300 billion in debt, he said.

When the government took office 13 years ago Ontario debt was $139 billion. The government doubled that in 10 years, he said. The financial accountability officer has said by the end of this year the debt will be $308 billion, he added.

Yet the government will be very quick to tell you our deficit is only going to be around $5 billion.

Fedeli urged participants to speak up and let their thoughts be known.

Tell the government youre onto them, youve got their number, he said.

They were also encouraged to go to to help form Conservative policy.

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Campus News

More than 8,370 Iowa State University undergraduates have been recognized for outstanding academic achievement by being named to the 2015 fall semester deans list.Students named to the deans list must have earned a grade point average of at least 3.50 on a 4.00 scale while carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours of graded course work. The list includes:

Arnolds Park -- Caitlin Ann Rolfes, elementary education; Allison Marie Wittrock, animal science

Milford -- Alexandra Marcine Adams, psychology; Olivia Joann Albright, animal science; Madison Kae Bates, child, adult, and family services; Nicholas C. Cihlar, sociology; Sara Kathryn Mayer, genetics; Thomas Mayer, mathematics; Tyler Anthony Ohl, animal science;

Okoboji -- Brady James Thein, philosophy; Kiley Jo Wermersen, event management

Spirit Lake -- Kyle J. Anderson, kinesiology and health; Carter Rose Hassel, elementary education; Philip George Hutson, industrial technology; Brooke Meghan Janicek, early childhood education; Paige Elizabeth Krause, elementary education; Alex J. Lende, software engineering; Michaela A. Moffitt, child, adult, and family services; Elena Dorothea Neuhaus, biology; Jennifer Poncelet, kinesiology and health; Katelynn Emily Rees, early childhood education; William Scott Rockman, mechanical engineering; Cara R. Vale, finance; Mackenzie Jo Veldman, financial counseling and planning; Nicholas Charles Wetzeler, finance; Ayrton J. Williams, industrial technology.

Terril -- Zach Glenn Benedict, aerospace engineering; Ethan Andrew Eldridge, agriculture and life sciences exploration; Donna Aline Kautzman, animal science; Sook Hyang White, pre-business.

Securing Green Finance for Developing Countries

The Paris climate change conference was a great success for the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in many ways, bringing new opportunities going forward and opening the door for partnerships and collaboration with multilateral development banks and the United Nations regional commissions to support developing countries to secure the climate finance they need to move towards a low-carbon, sustainable future.

COP21 served as a platform for GGGI to engage with its Members and present its vision for promoting and facilitating green investments to a wider audience through organizing events and participating in numerous activities. A good example is the launch of the Inclusive Green Growth Partnership (IGGP), which attracted a crowd of more than 150 attendees. The IGGP event enlightened many participants to realize the importance of mobilizing green financing in developing and emerging countries to help them to transition to low emission and climate resilient economies. The Partnership, which is a joint initiative of GGGI together with Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and UN agencies, aims to provide new finance solutions for developing countries to help them deliver on Sustainable Development Goals and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

What GGGI can offer is technical expertise to assist MDBs to identify green growth opportunities and investments by working closely with emerging economies and Least Developed Countries (LDCs). GGGI can support the implementation of the Paris commitments through bankable projects and by building domestic green finance institutions. The organization works with governments to help them achieve their growth goals of real inclusive and sustainable change for their people and the environment and help countries to develop green growth plans that are bankable - projects that meet investor criteria and that will be implemented.

Developing countries are concerned about how they will fund their efforts to deal with climate change. The world is awash with money. Sufficient capital is available at a global level. The conviction of GGGI is to promote ambition by calling for action, and in order to enhance action there needs to be finance. GGGI organized an event called Three Steps to Green Finance to examine how national and international financial institutions and project development are related, focusing on the role that domestic financial institutions play in project development and leveraging international finance, with a view to both public and private sources of finance. Discussions revolved around three areas to secure green finance: innovative international finance, national instruments and bankable projects. During the panel discussion, senior government representatives from three GGGI Member countries - Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and the Philippines - highlighted their countrys strategy for mobilizing green finance to implement programs and projects that reflect and are in line with their respective visions of green growth. Promoting green investments requires looking at the linkages between international and domestic sources of finance and bankable project pipelines. The event provided an opportunity to look at national and international barriers to financing green projects and ways to overcome challenges.

GGGI took part in the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) Fair, which was organized by the UNFCCC Secretariat to inspire transformational action on the ground by showcasing how country-driven sustainable development initiatives are moving developing countries along a low-carbon development trajectory. The NAMA Fair offered an opportunity to step forward and take global engagement towards effective implementation. It also allowed participants to better understand how NAMAs, and the financing for NAMAs, can be connected more effectively and verifiably to the development goals of each country.

In the margins of the Paris summit, GGGI Members reaffirmed their commitment to promoting green growth and transitioning to low-carbon economies. GGGI and the Government of Rwanda signed a MoU in support of the countrys efforts to build a green and sustainable economy. The agreement will boost cooperation through technical support and capacity building so that Rwanda is better able to conserve its natural environment and build climate resilience. Hungary became the 25th member country of GGGI after formally signing the Agreement of Establishment in Paris. In addition, GGGI signed a funding agreement with Mexico and agreed to expand cooperation with Costa Rica. Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom have agreed to contribute 100 million USD to support Colombias Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) efforts to reduce deforestation in the countys Amazon forests. GGGI is encouraged by the strong commitment demonstrated by the international donors and pleased to have worked closely with Colombian government partners in the development and financing of strategic initiatives that will help preserve valuable forest resources and drive green growth in the Amazon.

GGGI will continue to engage closely with its Members while seeking new opportunities with non-member countries. GGGI hopes to play a pivotal role in not only supporting developing and emerging countries to transition to green and low-carbon economies, but to help them build capacity to develop bankable projects and secure climate finance.

Kansas lawmakers begin session facing budget shortfall for second year in a row

Hensley, a public school teacher, said not developing a new formula this year "does a disservice to local school districts to keep them in the lurch." He questioned whether majority Republicans have the political will to pass a formula.

Other lawmakers are more optimistic. "We were elected to work every year we're in session," Ryckman said.

He would like to pass a preliminary school finance bill this year, then tweak it next session if necessary based on feedback from school districts, before it goes into effect for the 2018 fiscal year.

He acknowledged that it will be difficult to pass school finance legislation this year but said lawmakers should try to make progress.

Another possibility would be to create a pilot program for a small group of districts before it's implemented statewide.

'Let's do it'

Rep. Ron Highland, R-Wamego, who chairs the House Education Committee, similarly wants work toward passing something this session.

"I'm hearing from legislators and (House) leadership, 'Let's do it,'" said Highland. "... You can never say for sure, but personally I would like to see a school finance formula to vote on (this year)."

Highland was the primary author of a draft report on school funding that asserted districts aren't doing enough to ensure taxpayer money is used efficiently. The draft, tabled by a special committee last week, recommended a number of changes, including limits on school districts issuing bonds, privatizing school district functions and implementing bulk purchasing for districts to save costs.

Lawmakers plan to vote on an updated version of the report sometime during the session.

Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, said the purpose of the two-year block grant bill "was to take two years to derive a new school finance formula."

"To me that's a good thing. We should take time, get input from all interested parties, consider our options and weigh them before moving forward," King said. "And so I certainly think there will be school finance discussions in the Legislature this year. I don't think there will be a final formula. Because again, I think it's a two-year process."

Waiting until after the election offers lawmakers a chance to talk to voters on the campaign trail about what they want out of a school finance formula before they pass a final bill, King said.

Mark Desetti, legislative director of the Kansas National Education Association, doubted that lawmakers will take action on school finance this year - especially after last year's marathon session.

"There seems to be a desire to just patch things together to get out of the current fiscal mess and get on with their campaigns," Desetti said. "So I have a feeling that they will do as little as possible this year. They'll do what they need to do to get out in a timely fashion. ... 'Let's just do some damage control and move on.'"

Economic growth rate in current fiscal lower than projected

The government on Friday lowered the economic growth forecast for the current fiscal to 7-7.5 per cent from previously projected 8.1-8.5 per cent mainly because of lower agricultural output due to deficit rains.

The GDP growth, projected in the Mid-Year Economic Review of the Economy tabled in Parliament, is broadly in line with 7.4 per cent growth projection of the Reserve Bank of India.

Retail inflation, it said, is likely to be within the target of about 6 per cent.

It said the decline in nominal GDP growth will pose a challenge for meeting the fiscal deficit target of 3.9 per cent of GDP.

Slower than anticipated nominal GDP growth will itself raise the deficit target by 0.2 per cent of GDP, it said, adding that the anticipated shortfall in disinvestment receipts, owing to adverse market conditions for a portfolio that largely comprises commodity stocks, will add to the challenge.

While tax collections have been buoyant relative to the growth, indirect taxes have fared better than direct taxes, probably because corporate profits have not been buoyant, reflecting the slowing nominal GDP growth, it said.