Thursday, December 3, 2009

Budget for 2010 looking good

Good news to report from Ottawa. According to the Hill Times (subscription), it looks like the PBO will get the requested $2.8 million to run the office. (Not the Office, the office!)
A year after a nasty public fight erupted over Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page's budget, Parliamentary Librarian William Young will ask the House for the PBO's requested $2.8-million annual budget in the 2010 main estimates, say MPs.

During a closed-door meeting last Thursday at the Joint Library of Parliament Committee, Mr. Young told MPs and Senators that he would recommend to the House and Senate Speakers that the Parliamentary Budget Office get the $1-million budget increase he wants in the next fiscal year, Parliamentarians told Civil Circles.

"We had a little push and pull, give and take, but at the end of the day, the meeting was constructive," said NDP MP David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, Ont.). "We had a meeting of the minds. We had agreement on what will go forward and hopefully, at the very least, the fiscal concern around the PBO's ability to do the job as it needs to be done has been addressed and anything that surfaces between now and next year's go around remains to be seen."
So, that sounds good. How does that measure up against the demands of the 130+ economists who signed the open letter in the summer?
We call on Parliamentarians of every party to pursue the following actions in support of the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer:
  • Ensure adequate funding to carry out its mandate
  • Independence by making the PBO a full Officer of Parliament
  • Public reporting of all analysis.
I'd call that one out of three. The first demand seems to be satisfied. The second, not yet. For the third, the communications of the PBO seem to be constrained by the Parliamentary Librarian, as far as I can see. But I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong on that.