The BC Liberal government delivered the budget on Tuesday afternoon, a document which promises a series of surpluses — $197 million in 2013-14, $211 million in 2014-15 and $460 million in 2015-16. This year’s deficit is projected to be $1.2 billion.
There were a few gifts, such as a one-time $1200 grant to Education Savings Funds for BC children and an Early Childhood Tax Credit.
There are also tax increases — a one per cent increase to corporate taxes and a temporary, two-year increase in personal income taxes to those making over $150,000. Those increases will be from 2.1 to 16.8 per cent. Tobacco products will be going up $2 a carton, and there will be another increase to Medical Services Premiums in January 2014 (about 4 per cent).
While no cuts have been specified in detail, there will be spending cuts in Ministry budgets and curtailed growth in others.
The forecasted surpluses will come from natural gas royalties and expected sales of about 100 surplus properties, which could bring in $500 million.
Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald (NDP) says you’d have to be naive to find those numbers credible.
“They talk about a balanced budget. They haven’t come close to a balanced budget. They haven’t come close. You’d have to be magnificently naive to find these numbers credible.
“We have a $1.2 billion deficit this year. And one year later, we’ll have a $197 million surplus? We’ll be lucky to maintain that deficit. An almost $1.5 billion turn around is just incredible to believe.”
Macdonald says basing the budget on projections of gas royalties, the projections of which have not proven solid in the past, and on the non-sustainable sale of properties creates a pretension of fiscal stability.
“It’s not useful for politicians to pretend the fiscal state of the province is better than it is,” he said.