There are a few positives in Tuesday’s financial plan released by Finance Minister Carole James, says Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok, but overall he worries for the financial future of the province.
The budget document includes an updated forecast of a $374 million surplus, and contains a number of spending initiatives focused on making life more affordable, delivering more services for families and investing in the economy, according to Minister James.
Specific items include a B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit tax credit, which is projected to return $400 million to B.C. families, starting in 2020, a 900 million investment into Clean BC, a plan to meet climate targets, and a $20 billion investment over the next three years into infrastructure projects.
Clovechok says that there are a couple of things in the budget to like, but overall it’s “socialistic”.
“There’s an increase in funding for foster parents and they need better support. I like the $74 million going into children and mental health,” he said.
And while he says removing interest from student loans is a positive, it does leave the question of who will pay for it.
And that’s his over-riding concern about this budget.
“There is $14.4 billion in new debt over the next three years. Government never borrows during good times. They are putting our credit rating at risk.”
Clovechok says the budget barely mentioned jobs and there was certainly no jobs plan. There was almost no mention of tourism.
And he says that while the previous BC Liberal government did support green initiatives, another increase in the carbon tax is going to be felt.
“It’s going to cost Carol from Canal Flats more for gas, while carbon tax revenue goes to pay for electric cars in the Lower Mainland. Again rural BC loses.
“And what happened to rental rebates and $10 a day daycare? Only 2500 kids in the entire province have $10 a day daycare. That’s two per cent of their promise in two years.”
Clovechok says that BC deals in the global economy, which is poised on a precipice right now, and the budget does not address that at all.
“By their own admission housing starts are down 6.4 per cent this year and will be down 16 per cent next year. How does that help affordability? Then there’s the speculation tax. No, it’s not in our riding, but people from out of province don’t know that or don’t believe it. People are moving out of BC because of it.
“They are spending like drunken sailors with nothing to back it up. It’s exactly what happened in the 1990s.
“We left them a $2 billion surplus. I worry for this province and the people I represent.”
Clovechok says he doesn’t buy that almost three quarters of the surplus went to BC Hydro and ICBC.
“I don’t buy that for a second. I’d like them to demonstrate it, but they won’t.”
“It’s a socialistic budget. We need to get to the polls and end this madness.”