Through this election, the B.C. Liberals and the B.C. NDP have presented the voters with a clear choice in terms of financial priorities.
A detailed fiscal plan was the first plank of the platform released by the B.C. NDP. And, indeed, Finance Critic Bruce Ralston painted a very different picture of the current state of financial affairs in the province.
Simply put, the B.C. NDP does not accept the B.C. Liberal claim that their budget is balanced. In the B.C. NDP fiscal plan, Ralston identified a deficit of $790 million for fiscal 2013-14 due to the unrealistic growth rate projections used by the B.C. Liberals, and the fact they are counting asset sales that have yet to happen.
The B.C. NDP does not believe that cashing cheques the government doesn’t yet have for assets is a prudent or honest way to say you have balanced the budget.
So the starting point of the fiscal framework is very different.
Accepting that the B.C. Liberals are leaving behind a $790 million deficit, Ralston also outlined a small number of new revenue measures and identified reallocations from existing B.C. Liberal government.
These measures will allow a potential B.C. NDP government commitments to start to address the problems in education, health care, and growing inequality that are the result of 12 years of B.C. Liberal cuts.
These measures include: a corporate income tax rate increased from 11% to 12 % – or 1% higher than the B.C. Liberal plan; a high income earners’ personal income tax increase – as is in the B.C. Liberal plan; and an extension of the carbon tax base so that oil and gas companies also contribute.
These revenue changes, along with reallocation of B.C. Liberal government spending, will allow some important increases in support to make our schools better, ensure better health care for senior citizens, a big investment in post secondary education and skills training, and more resources to protect our natural environment.
Voters have been clear that one of the lessons government needed to learn from the way the H.S.T. was handled is that they expect parties to be transparent about their plans during an election. It’s part of the reason people are looking for change, and it’s why the B.C. NDP has been so clear about it’s priorities.