Liberals release third balanced budget in a row; NDP say it’s built on the backs of lower and middle class families

Sounder News

Wednesday, February 25 2015

The B.C. government unveiled the third consecutive balanced budget which Finance Minister Michael de Jong claimed would build toward a stronger and more diversified economy and delivers additional  support to British Columbians who are most in need.

The 2015 budget forecasts a surplus of $879 million in 2014-15, with  further surpluses forecast in all three years of the fiscal plan:

* $284 million in 2015-16

* $376 million in 2016-17

* $399 million in 2017-18

In releasing the budget, de Jong said the reason to not spend more was being careful, “is the key to our success. it is the reason we stand along among the provinces in Canada to balance our budget.

“The Global economy is still in trouble. We cannot become complacent - we can never take anything for granted.”

Carole James, the New Democrat Opposition spokesperson for Finance, said the new budget was set up to make hardworking families pay more and get less.

“Families who have been asking for a break after years of increases in hidden taxes, fee hikes, fare hikes, rate hikes and more premum hikes.”

She pointed out the budget has $5 million to put towards tax reliefs for the poorest while the wealthiest 2% of the population saw $230 million increase in tax breaks.

“Who pays for that cut? 

“Middle and modest income families. This budget shows everything about this government’s lack of support for modest and middle income families.”

During the budget speech, de Jong said the LNG expansions the BC Liberals have been pushing for have not happened at the pace desired, and global markets continue to fluctuate.

As such, the budget includes funding to have the BC government partner with the marine shipping industry to re-establish the International Maritime Centre to help attract more shipping companies and their head offices to Vancouver.

There is are also funding measures in placed to grow the aerospace industry within BC.

James said, “There has been a cost to the singular focus of the Liberal government’s commitment to LNG. Because when isssues were raised, the answers was always LNG. 

“The results are that virtually every other secor other than LNG was neglected. One good thing about the Liberals failing on LNG, they are forced to talk about other sectors that they’ve been failing in BC.”

de Jong said, “The discipline we showed through the recession to bring the budget into balance has given us the flexibility to make modest, strategic investments that maintain public services like health care and education, as well as strengthen and encourage growth in key economic sectors. 

“Budget 2015 helps make life a little easier for families and those in need. Starting in September, parents receiving both income and disability assistance and child support payments from a non-custodial parent will be able to keep every dollar they receive in child support over and above what they receive in assistance.

“The diversity in our economy and export markets have insulated B.C. from the worst of the economic downturn. Budget 2015 will support further diversification by creating a new partnership with the maritime shipping industry, continuing our partnership with the growing aerospace industry, and helping B.C. businesses tap into the opportunity represented by the new renminbi hub to sell their products and services to China.”

Total government revenue is forecast at $46.4 billion in 2015-16, $47.6 billion in 2016-17 and $48.6 billion in 2017-18. Revenue growth is expected to average 2.7% annually for the four-year period 2014-15 to 2017-18.

Total expense over the three-year plan is forecast at $45.8 billion in 2015-16, $46.9 billion in 2016-17 and $47.9 billion in 2017-18, and is projected to increase at an annual average of 2.5% over the forecast period (2014-15 to 2017-18).