Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Liberals deliver budget/election blue print

Whether it ever proves to be a working document won't be known until after the May election, but in the lead up to that election campaign, Premier Christy Clark's Finance Minister Mike de Jong delivered the Liberal governments blue print on Tuesday

A wide ranging document of number crunching that would provide for a small surplus, should all the revenue streams provide as designed.

Budgets heading into an election campaign provide much in the way of wishful thinking and the reality is that the document of today, may not hold much in the way of a final word after we go to the polls.

Should the NDP prove victorious, it's safe to assume that they would be redefining the financial plan with their slant firmly in place and should the Liberals grab yet another victory, there's a good chance that tweaking would quickly follow, usually in the form of a financial statement or some such convenience of government.

Still, the Budget is one of the key statements of any government, a road map of sorts of where they hope to go and how they hope to pay for it.

Some of the highlights from Budget Day 2013 included:

A projected budget surplus of 197 million for 2013, with anticipated surpluses of $211 million in 2014-15 and $460 million in 2015-16.

There will be a temporary increase in the personal income tax rate for those above $150,000 dollars, with an additional 2.1 percent to be collected over the next three years.

The Corporate tax rate will increase by 1 per cent

Medical Services Plan premiums will increase by 4 per cent on January 1st 2014

Tobacco Taxes will increase by $2 per carton effective October 1st.

The Government will sell off a number of assets hoping to generate $625 million for the province.

Starting in April of 2015, there will be an early childhood refundable tax credit in place worth up to $660,  for families with children under six

The Government will spend 32 million dollars over three years to create new child care spaces and spend 37 million dollars over three years to improve the quality of child care and services.

Using money from an educational fund created in 2007, there will be a one time grant of $1,200 for children born after January 1, 2007, which will be deposited into a Registered Education Savings Plan.

The Ministry of Education will get an increase of less than one percent, while the Ministry of Advanced Innovation and Technology will see a reduction of 46 million dollars over three years.

The Budget will set aside 54 million dollars for RCMP services over the next three years.

The full highlights package and other Budget related information from the Ministry of Finance can be found here.

More than a few observers have suggested that the Liberals have done Adrian Dix and the NDP a favour, putting in place some of the tax increases that the NDP were suggesting might  be necessary, though we imagine not for all the same reasons as the Liberals may have in mind.

The fact that the budget details revealed today, may not be of much concern by May was also a theme of many a political contributor today.

A valid thought considering the fact that the budget won't be debated or voted on prior to the May 14th election, making it really not much more than a talking point in the short term.

One person clearly not impressed with the document is Martyn Brown,  a Liberal insider who had little kind to say about the Clark Government's financial plan.

Probably the Premier's only saving grace from that particularly harsh outburst being, that Brown is the former Chief of Staff to Gordon Campbell, make what you will of all that internal Liberal nastiness.

Some of the other reviews of the Budget of 2013 can be found below:

Vancouver Sun-- Liberals' highly debatable budget plans include fiscal tricks, asset sales and tax hikes
Vancouver Sun-- Balanced budget a tricky balancing act for B. C. Liberals
Vancouver Province-- Corporate leaders give B. C. Liberals the business
Vancouver Province-- B. C. budget achieves balance, as billed
Vancouver Province-- Public skepticism over balanced books
Victoria Times Colonist-- Tax hikes, higher fees, selling assets are proposed measures to balance budget
Victoria Times Colonist-- Government makes $46M in cuts to higher education
Victoria Times Colonist-- Cuts to health spending but not transfers to health authorities
CBC-- B. C. Government tables lean budget
CBC-- What Budget means for you
CTV BC-- Tax Hikes, Asset Sales allows B. C. to balance budget
Global BC-- Finance Minister Defends Budget
24 Hours Vancouver-- The BC Budget Speech We never Heard from Finance Minister Mike de Jong
24 Hours Vancouver-- BC Liberals raising taxes to 'balance' budget
The Tyee-- BC Budget "Is it Credible?"
The Tyee-- BC's small surplus depends on asset sales and optimism
The Tyee-- Budget 2013 "not very good for young people': advocates
Georgia Straight-- B. C. government budget projects "modest" surplus, includes tax increases

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