VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – The province is selling off about 100 properties and hiking taxes on businesses and the wealthy to balance the books as it heads into this May’s provincial election.
BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong introduced a pre-election budget that borrowed heavily from the government’s NDP opponents, hiking taxes for corporations and raising income taxes on those earning over $150,000.
Cigarette taxes and health care premiums will rise as the Liberals work to balance its books before heading into a May election campaign.
De Jong says he recognizes there is a credibility gap with his government, given the $2-billion-dollar deficit difference between what the Liberals promised before the election in 2009 and the end result of the books that year.
For the upcoming year, spending will increase for health care and education and the government is adding an education grant plan giving the parents of children six and under $1,200 each.
There is also a strategy to create new child-care spaces.
Some highlights from the BC budget:
Deficit and Surplus:
- The government predicts budget surpluses of $197 million for 2013-2014, $211 million for 2014-1015 and $460 million for 2015-2016.
- The deficit for 2012-2013 is now expected to come in at $1.2 billion, compared with the $968 million predicted in the budget speech last year and a figure of $1.5 billion contained in a revised prediction late last year.
- Total provincial debt is forecast to be $62.7 billion in 2013-2014.
- Beginning January 2014, the personal income tax rate on income above $150,000 will increase by 2.1 percentage points to 16.8 per cent from 14.7 per cent. The increase is to expire in 2016.
- Medical Services Plan premiums will increase by about four per cent effective Jan. 1, 2014
- Tobacco taxes increase by $2 per carton effective Oct. 1.
- Corporate income tax rate will increase by one percentage point to 11 per cent on April 1, 2013 — a year earlier than expected.
- The industrial school property tax credit for light industry will be phased out over two years.
- Sales of assets, including valuable vacant lots, a former school in Surrey and a parking lot near the legislature, will generate $625 million over the next two years.
- Economic growth is expected to rise by 1.6 per cent in 2013-2014, 2.2 per cent in 2014-2015 and 2.5 per cent in 2015-16.
- Total revenues are expected to grow by about three per cent per year.
- Spending will increase on average by 1.5 per cent in each of the next three years.
- A one-time $1,200 grant for children born Jan. 1, 2007 or later, to be deposited directly into a Registered Education Savings Plan. The grants will come from an existing children’s education fund that was established in 2007.
- An early childhood refundable tax credit for families with children under six worth up to $660, starting in April 2015. The tax credit is expected to cost $146 million in its first year
- $32 million over three years to create new childcare spaces.
- $37 million over three years to improve the quality of child care and services.
- $52 million for the RCMP to maintain services over three years.
- Spending will increase by $2.4 billion over three years.
- Health spending grew on average seven per cent per year between 200-2006 and 2008-2009. It was reduced to an average of 4.4 per cent in the next four years and the Liberals say they will constrict it to 2.6 per cent.
- $18 million to fund programming for kids in the arts.
- $5 million for treatment for problem gambling.
- $13 million over three years to renovate 13 single room occupancy hotels in Vancouver.