Having prefaced her comments with an assurance that a comprehensive press release regarding the BC Liberals’ 2013 budget was on the way, Kootenay West NDP MLA Katrine Conroy was able to supply some initial impressions on the document this past Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s a real concerning budget,” said Conroy by phone from Victoria. “I think they’ve underestimated expenditures and overestimated revenues they’ll never see. They’re using surplus assets, surplus property that they say they’re going to sell.”
It’s that sort of strategy that Conroy says the Liberals claim will earn $625 million, a strategy she has little confidence in. The properties in questions apparently include the old Tranquille lands in Kamloops as well as significant parcels in the Lower Mainland and across the province.
“We know these are large pieces of property that can take years to sell… and they might not sell. It’s like counting your chickens before they hatch,” said Conroy.
What the Kootenay West MLA sees as a net cut to health care funding is also a source of concern.
“There’s nothing in the way of increases to home support… and they say they’re going to bring in a seniors’ advocate but there doesn’t seem to be money for it in the budget. In the Throne Speech they talked about rural health care and there’s no money to back that up.”
Significant cuts in the budgets of various ministries were also cited by Conroy as troubling.
“All of the ministries look like they’re receiving cuts… all of the mining, forestry, those kind of revenue ministries… it doesn’t really look like there’s anything coming there.”
The budget suggests the corporate income tax rate would rise one point to 11 per cent effective April 1, so wrote Black Press legislative reporter Tom Fletcher on Feb. 19, “accelerating by a year an increase announced in 2012. NDP leader Adrian Dix has repeatedly promised to increase the corporate rate to 12 per cent, where it was in 2008.”
Fletcher added that “with a provincial election set for May 14, this budget will not be passed by the time the brief legislature session ends in late March. Its measures are part of a campaign platform for Premier Clark’s government, and the winner of the election must pass a budget in the fall.”