With the Progressive Conservatives making it clear they will oppose virtually all Liberal initiatives, the minority government needs at least two NDP votes to pass the budget, or else Ontario will be thrown into its second election campaign in six months.
"I think that people overall don’t want to see an election very, very soon," Horwath told reporters.
"Having said that, I think the government knows very well that they have to pay attention to the concerns that we’ve brought to the table, or else we’re not going to support the budget."
While she insists she won't "draw a line in the sand," Horwath wants the Liberals to scrap a planned cut in corporate taxes from 11.5 per cent down to 10 per cent. The latest unemployment figures prove the previous corporate tax cut from 14 per cent did not create jobs, she said.
"In the same way that I say there’s no specific thing that’s going to buy our support, I have to be careful about the other side of the equation as well," said Horwath.
"There’s some things that we pretty clearly don’t want to see, which is the ineffective situation we have now with the corporate taxes."
The government is acting as if it has a majority, complained Horwath, who said the "arrogance of the Liberals" has resulted in virtually no pre-budget talks between the two parties.
Officials with Finance Minister Dwight Duncan say there were several meetings with the NDP's finance critic, including one Thursday, and claim the New Democrats wanted to hold all their ideas for Friday's news conference by Horwath.
The Liberals know they need opposition support to pass the budget and any other initiatives, said Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid.
"I think every day in the legislature we’re quite aware we’re in a minority government. That’s the reality we live in," said Duguid.
"Our (budget) priority will be getting our fiscal challenge in order, creating jobs and building a strong economy."
The Liberals have said there will be spending cuts in the budget as they try to protect gains in health and education while also staying on track to eliminate a $16-billion deficit and avoid an expensive credit rating downgrade.
The NDP wants the government to take a balanced approach that looks at the revenue side of the equation and also caps salaries for top public sector executives.
"The whole conversation has been about cuts, cuts, cuts, cuts, the very cuts that risk putting families into an even darker financial situation and further slowing down our already tenuous recovery," said Horwath.
"We’ve talked about those folks who tend to be benefiting starting to feel some of the pain as well, so the entire process of balancing our budget isn’t put on the backs of everyday families."
The Tories have watched the New Democrats vote with the minority government to defeat a series of Progressive Conservative bills and motions on everything from subways to wind power, and expect the NDP to keep propping up the minority government.
"We’re obviously seeing the Liberals and NDP joining forces in the house, but what we’re advocating for is for Dalton McGuinty to deal with this jobs and debt crisis," said Tory member Monte McNaughton.
Duncan still has not announced a date for the budget, but said earlier in the week that it will be introduced before the federal budget March 29.