The local Liberal MLA Marc Dalton called the provincial budget that was presented on Tuesday “responsible,” while his NDP counterpart Michael Sather said it was “remarkable for its lack of substance.”
The provincial budget for 2013/14 showed that the government will not have a deficit this year and will put aside $625 million as a cushion – $225 as a contingency fund, $197 million in surplus, and $200 million as a forecast allowance.
Dalton said the budget shows a commitment to balancing the budget and that B.C. is fiscally strong.
“It will definitely help us with attracting investment,” he said.
The government also forecast surpluses over the next two budget years.
The health budget will increase by 2.6 per cent, totalling $17.4 billion in 2015/16. The education budget will get an infusion of $210 million for the learning improvement fund, and $1 million to add milk to the fruit and vegetable program.
The budget includes grants for children six and under of $1,200 towards registered education savings plans, $55 per child per month for daycare for families earning less than $100,000, $76 million over three years to create new child-care spaces, $60 million for the sports and arts legacy fund, $52 million for RCMP policing, and $18 million for to increase youth participation in arts.
Personal taxes for people earning more than $150,000 will increase by 2.1 per cent next year. Income taxes will rise from 10 per cent to 11 per cent on April 1.
The government announced that $1.1 billion have been found in savings in Crown agencies and ministries.
Dalton pointed out that a carbon tax relief for greenhouse growers could benefit the agricultural sector in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
In addressing the provincial legislature, Sather said there was no mention of climate change in the budget.
“Talk about prosperity, but the prospects for prosperity are massively diminished by the devastation brought about by climate change,” he told the legislature, and instead of trying to solve the problem of climate change, “we’re talking about pedal-to-the-metal development of fossil fuels.”
This budget was not a typical election budget whereby government is buying votes by spending taxpayers money, Dalton said, referring to upcoming provincial election on May 14.