Premier Clark swipes page from the NDP with higher taxes


February 24, 2013

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Is the recent B.C. budget really a Liberal budget — or an NDP-style one?

Politics used to be straightforward in B.C. — there was a clear choice.

If people thought government should have a bigger say in the economy, and should spend more money, they could vote for the NDP. If people were more of the free-market persuasion, and thought lower taxes created jobs, then they could vote for the Liberals.

Today, politics in B.C. is much less clear.

Last week, Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals brought in a budget that seemingly blurred many of the lines between the Liberals and the NDP. The budget swiped items from the NDP’s platform — it raised taxes on the wealthy and hiked the corporate tax rate.

It used to be the Liberals believed the way to attract investment, jobs and growth was to keep taxes low. Now they seem to think the NDP’s class warfare rhetoric is the way to govern. But it’s not just the rich and the big companies who will pay more — regular citizens will as well. MSP premiums are going up 4%. The Liberals claim this isn’t a tax increase, but money that gets deducted off your paycheque and sent to the government sounds a lot like a tax.

So why did Clark raise all these taxes and turn her back on a decade of tax cutting? Well, they say it’s to balance the budget just 12 weeks before this year’s election. It’s a great story, but the trouble is the budget isn’t really balanced.

Imagine every year a person makes $55,000, but spends $60,000. To make up the difference they sell their car for $5,000, so the books are balanced. Except they no longer have a car and next year they will have to sell something else.

That’s what the government has done. They are selling off as much as $800 million in provincial government assets during the next two years. This is not a responsible way to manage British Columbia’s finances.

The budget should be balanced using the revenues collected during the year, not from selling assets. If assets are sold, the money the province receives should be used to pay down the debt. Those assets were bought and paid for by taxpayers through the years and represent real value for the province.

So if they are sold, they ought to be used to reduce liabilities, not cover off overspending.

With the Liberals taking a page from the NDP, this budget will leave us poorer, and with fewer jobs.

Published in 24 Hours Vancouver

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