Kamloops Liberal MLAs blast NDP for 'squandering' surplus

By Greg Fry/James Peters
September 11, 2017 - 4:27pm

KAMLOOPS — No surprise here, but both Kamloops Liberal MLAs have reacted quite negatively to the B.C. NDP's budget update in Victoria today.

The balanced budget forecasts a surplus of $246 million and attempts to make life more affordable for British Columbians by earmarking $208 million for affordable housing measures, by hiking disability rates, by cutting Medical Service Premiums in half, spending more on education and increasing personal income taxes on individuals earning over $150,000.

"Today's budget is very, very disappointing. It does not include a plan to grow and sustain B.C.'s economy," said Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone. "It does not include a jobs plan, it does not include a plan on how the certainty is there to attract investment from around the world. Instead if focuses on signficant spending increases. We're going to see upwards of $3 billion in spending the next year, including the carbon tax. And income taxes are going up. They appear to be on track to squander the money we built up."

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA and Environment Critic Peter Milobar called increases to personal income taxes and the carbon tax "troubling."

"We were expecting increases in taxes. It's just a little disconcerting when we're trying to attract doctors and other health professionals," he said. "Removing the revenue neutrality of the carbon tax and still committing to the increases, we'll see that generate upwards of $600 million over the next couple of years to the government and you know it really does get very punitive when it comes to industry and trying to grow the economy."

Stone admitted last spring's election result showed that people wanted more government spending but said the new government has still missed the boat.

"There's no question they wanted more social spending but our last budget did include a plan to cut MSP premiums in half, commitments to increase social assistance rates, but that's where this budget falls short. It only includes spending increases without figuring in a jobs plan and how investment is needed."

Budget promises more money for education, higher income taxes for some