B.C. Budget: tight spending and asset sales on the horizon
Spending cutbacks, sale of provincial property and a potential business tax were the highlights of the Finance Minister Kevin Falcon's budget on Tuesday. The B.C. Liberal government delivered on its promises of a tight budget aimed at balancing the books by the end of 2013.
Some highlights from the budget:
- 3.2 per cent increase in health care spending by the end of 2015 (down from previous years)
Four per cent increase in MSP premiums
Sale of provincially-owned properties
Funding for public school districts frozen at $4.7 billion a year (additional $165 million to deal with class composition issues)
Possible 1 percentage point increase in corporate tax income rate in 2014-15 if economy does not improve
tax cuts for smaller businesses
The budget forecasts a deficit of $968 million this year and a surplus of $154 million in 2013-2014.
"Keeping British Columbia's fiscal house in order does mean some tough decisions in the short-term,'' Falcon said during his speech to members of the B.C. legislature today. ”But consider what's at stake here. It's our future, the future of this province, and the future of our people.''
“This budget offers nothing to help middle-class and working families,” NDP MLA Bruce Ralston said. He criticized the government's spending on the BC Place roof, as well as the $100 million student information system, and asked why there was no increase in spending for forestry, despite a highly critical Auditor General report on B.C.'s timber management.