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THE battle lines for May's election have been drawn after SNP ministers passed the final Budget of their term in office by pledging to outbid Labour in hauling Scotland out of economic crisis.
Plans to overhaul Holyrood's tax-raising powers would see Scotland benefit to the tune of more than £600 million in the coming years, finance secretary John Swinney has admitted.
A LAST-MINUTE deal to provide more cash support for poorer students is poised to ensure the SNP government's spending plans are backed by parliament today.
FINANCE Secretary John Swinney has written to opposition parties outlining proposed changes to the Scottish budget in the hope of winning enough support for it to pass at Holyrood tomorrow.
As THE Scottish Budget deadline approaches, the proposal for the so-called "Tesco Tax" should remain in the parliament's shopping basket. Alongside a range of other taxes, the economically nutritious value of this levy on retailers grossing more than £3 million-£4m annually should be more carefully considered. It is not past its sell-by date yet, but it needs quick action to ensure that it doesn't rot on the political vine.
IN PREVIOUS years, we have seen Alex Salmond sending scribbled notes of entreaty to opposition MSPs seated at the back of the parliamentary chamber. There was the Green MSP Patrick Harvie storming through Holyrood's precincts, angrily complaining about bad ministerial manners. Or Tavish Scott sorting out Lib Dem backing for the 2009 budget while parked in his car in Edinburgh. We have had deals, gambles and betrayals.
The Scottish Government has been warned to curb its multi-billion pound spending plans on future road, hospital and school projects to deal with swingeing Budget cuts.
THE Scottish Government's £30 billion Budget was given preliminary backing by MSPs last night as it passed its first parliamentary hurdle.
THE SNP government's flagship £30 million "Tesco tax" is now almost certain to be rejected by the Scottish Parliament after a Holyrood committee yesterday voted against the controversial plan.
Labour leader Iain Gray held talks with Prince Charles yesterday as the party fired the starting gun on the campaign for the Holyrood election in 100 days' time.
Finance secretary John Swinney has said there will be no changes to key areas of government spending until 2015 as he published the Budget plans for the next four years.
THE Green Party's two MSPs are poised to vote against the Scottish Government's Budget plans, in a move that could prevent ministers from getting their plans through parliament.
The Scottish Government's spending plans do not go far enough to stimulate long-term economic growth, MSPs have been warned.
THE row over the SNP government handing back tax- raising powers to London has been dismissed by the former trade union leader drafted in by Alex Salmond to head a review into the future delivery of Scotland's public services.
FIRST Minister Alex Salmond is today due to launch a commission to carry out a wide-ranging review into the future delivery of Scotland's public services.
MORE than £1 million of taxpayers' cash has been "wasted" on paying for civil servants to work on the SNP government's campaign to promote independence, new figures have revealed.
Campbell Christie joined the civil service in 1954, and became active in the trade union movement.
A FUNDING deal between the Scottish Government and councils is fracturing within 24 hours of being signed after the country's biggest local authority described it as "undeliverable" and two others revealed they would be axing 2,400 jobs.