Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald

Two opinions on budget

NDP, BC Liberals disagree on merit of provincial budget

The BC Liberal government delivered the budget this week at the Legislature in Victoria and Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald (NDP) was quick to label it ‘A handout to millionaires’.

Macdonald took issue with a $230 million tax break for the top two per cent of income earmers.

“Imagine what a billion dollars could do in education, on our highways, or in raising children out of property. But instead, if you earn a million dollars, Christy Clark is giving you a $17,000 bonus,” Macdonald said.

“It’s absolutely absurd. I met a veteran. He makes $13,000 a year on disability. And his disability is clawed back from his pension. A millionaire gets a $17,000 tax cut and this veteran doesn’t even make that much. It’s completely, completely wrong.

“We can’t fix roads, there’s no money. We can’t help with deer. There’s no money. But the government can take care of a very privileged group who don’t need the help.”

Macdonald points to increases continuing to hurt the average tax payer, whose pay remains stagnant.

“BC Hydro rates are way up. Provincial parks fees are way up. And people will pay even more for Medical Services Plan premiums, a fee that no other province charges”, he said.

He also points out that after heralding Liquid Natural Gas as the economic saviour, there is no mention of  it in this year’s Throne Speech or budget.

“They promised the first LNG plant would be online by 2015 and it’s nowhere on the horizon. And even after the first plant is up, it won’t produce revenue for seven or eight years. It’s clear now that none of it was true. There is nothing realistic about what the Premier says.

Finally, Macdonald says that the so-called balanced budget and surplus is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

“The surplus is money pulled out of BC Hydro and ICBC, as well as selling land and other assets. It’s a trick. I won’t be supporting this budget.

”I’ll be speaking against it in the House outlining why it fails my constituents, and I will be voting against it.”

Not surprisingly, BC Liberal Doug Clovechok, who will once again run for his party in the next provincial election, does not agree.

“I am very proud to say that your BC Liberal government, as promised, introduced its third consecutive balanced budget  with a projected surplus of $879 million,” Clovechok said. “No other province in Canada will achieve this goal.

“There are three key principles are at the heart of Budget 2015; maintain public services like health care and education; strengthen and encourage growth in key economic sectors; and make life a little easier for families and those in need.

“So what does it mean for people in the Kootenays?

“Like in our own households we all try to pay down any debt that we might have.  To this end the government will be using some of the surplus to pay down the provincial debt.

“This balanced budget combined with a surplus means that there will be additional resources to support those in need. Effective September 1, 2015, child support payments will be fully exempted from income assistance calculations.

“The budget reaffirms government’s commitment to health care with a $3 billion increase to Ministry of Health spending over three years.

“Our schools are winners as well. The budget reflects the government’s commitment to investing in schools and Kindergarten to Grade 12 education will receive additional funding of $564 million.

“The budget demonstrates  the government commitment to investing in infrastructure and has allocated $10.7 billion dollars in new capital projects that will continue to deliver core services and create jobs.

“Above all the budget keeps taxes low for British Columbian families.  What I can tell my Kootenay neighbors is that our fiscal success  is the envy of all of other provinces as we continue to grow and prosper here in the Kootenays and throughout BC.”