VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – First time homebuyers and seniors are getting a home tax break and the province still plans to balance the books by election time next year by selling its own land.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon has just unveiled a tight-fisted 2012-2013 provincial budget, forecasting a deficit of $968 million dollars for the coming fiscal year. He says the budget will keep spending increases to a minimum, allowing the province to predict a surplus of $154 million for 2013-2014.

Falcon is handing out a one-time income tax credit worth up to $10,000 if you’re a first-time homebuyer purchasing a new home.

“[It's] something that we think will go a long way for new British Columbians — new, home-purchasing British Columbians — to get into that first home, and at the same time help support the new home construction centre,” he said.

Seniors will be eligible for a home renovation tax credit of up to $1,000 for things like hand rails and bath tubs.

The province hopes to earn up to $700 million by selling land in Surrey and Kelowna and may boost corporate income taxes by one per cent in 2014 if they need to.

There will be $1.5 billion more for health, but education is not getting any more money and the government is looking for the post-secondary sector to cut its budgets by $70 m between 2013 and 2015. Most ministry spending is virtually frozen.

Brace yourself for higher MSP fees and a carbon tax boost from the BC government as it tries to wrestle down a slightly lower deficit. Despite a pledge of no tax increases, Kevin Falcon says MSP fees will go up about $5 a month for a family of three. He says it’s the reality of increased pressure on health care.

The carbon tax will go up about one cent per litre on July 1, although the province is taking a loss because of rebates and will review its carbon neutrality.

As before, Falcon says public sector workers will not get a wage increase this year.

If the Liberals’ budget predictions hold, they will be able to campaign on a promise of balanced books before voters go to the polls in May, 2013.

However, they may also be campaigning on a promise to increase corporate income tax. The budget includes a measure to increase that rate by one percentage point to 11 per cent — something Falcon says will only happen if the economy performs worse than expected.

- With files from the Canadian Press

Our Dan Burritt is in Victoria for the unveiling of the budget.  Keep it locked on News1130 and follow us on Twitter @News1130Radio for all the latest details.