FM must set out bolder set of priorities such as investing in teachers, reforming local taxation & improving public transport

As the Scottish Parliament returns from Summer recess, the Scottish Greens are challenging the First Minister to set out a bolder set of priorities such as investing in new teachers, reforming local taxation and improving public transport.

Ahead of this afternoon’s (4 Sep) Programme for Government speech by Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP is warning that investment in teachers is needed more than ever given the time ministers wasted on an Education Bill that they were forced to shelve.

Harvie also warns that unless local councils are given financial powers to protect public services, the Green MSPs cannot enter into discussions about the coming year’s budget.

And he says that the government must revise its Transport Bill so that private bus firms can no longer cherry-pick the most profitable routes, and that there be a bolder timescale on the public sector bid for the ScotRail franchise.

The Greens also point to the need for:
*Further progressive action in the budget, through fairer taxation and measures to boost incomes - last year Greens won the argument to shift to a fairer system of rates and bands
*Action to prepare for the impact of the Tories’ Brexit crisis
*A revised Climate Change Bill that matches other countries’ ambitions and aims to make Scotland carbon neutral by 2040 rather than the slowdown proposed 
*Action to properly ban fox hunting 
*Divestment from unethical business such as the arms trade and fossil fuels

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“Looking back at the past year we see the Scottish Greens leading the change, bringing about a fairer system of income tax, preventing cuts to local councils and tackling poverty by ensuring people get the financial support they’re entitled to. We’ve used the opportunity of a minority government, while other parties have chosen to posture. Looking forward to the coming year, we see further opportunities for bold action.

“SNP ministers wasted valuable time and energy on unwanted education reforms and a doomed education bill, so this week’s Programme for Government must commit to invest in staff and resources to tackle the real issues in our schools. 

“The transport that we use in our daily lives has been neglected by Scottish Ministers distracted by the corporate lobbying of Heathrow expansionists and hopes of cutting aviation tax. We need an urgent focus on better buses and rail services run in the public interest.

“And on local tax, we continue to see council efforts to raise more revenue to protect local services stymied by ministers’ centralising tendencies. We’ve given fair warning that failure to devolve local tax powers will prevent any discussion about the coming year’s budget.”

Patrick added:

“Green MSPs continue to progress our own legislation, including ending the outdated and inhumane defence of justifiable assault of children, a proposal from John Finnie which the government has pledged to support. And a bill to bring about safer speed limits in urban areas, a proposal from Mark Ruskell, has the backing of numerous public health and road safety experts.

“The SNP government is starting to lose its way and it is Greens who are bringing forward the fresh, bold ideas to keep our parliament moving forward, making Scotland the fairer nation we aspire to be.”