By Bruce Fuhr, The Nelson Daily
The B.C. government website said the 2012 provincial budget delivered in the legislature Tuesday by Finance Minister Kevin Falcon “lays a firm foundation for the future”.
Nelson/Creston MLA Michelle Mungall disagrees with Minister Falcon’s prediction.
“It’s pretty clear that the B.C. Liberals are not putting any money towards B.C families and the end result is a greater inequality between the classes,” Mungall said Tuesday from the Legislature in Victoria.
“There will be more inequality for families and a greater pressure on the middle class.”
In his address to the Legislature, Falcon outlined a roadmap to be B.C. back to balanced budgets by 2013-14 by announcing plans to privatize the liquor distribution branch, increase medical service plan premiums and some business taxes, and to sell off hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus government properties.
Mungall sees the increase to the MSP premiums as a sellout to the big corporations.
“The Liberals are raising the MSP (Medical Services Plan) by four percent which means by 2014-15 British Columbians are projected to be paying more MSP premiums that corporations are paying in taxes,” Mungall explained.
The Finance Minister said the B.C. government will run a $968-million deficit for the coming 2012-13 fiscal year, but hopes to return to balance by 2013-14 — the year it is legally mandated to do so.
To accomplish this task, the government will cancel a drop in the small business corporate income tax rate, keeping it at 2.5% instead of dropping it to zero as had been planned for this coming April.
As NDP Critic for Advanced Education, Youth and Labour Market Development, Mungall said Falcon totally missed the mark on providing help for today’s students, scheduled to become the new job force in the coming years.
“We definitely should be focusing on eliminating the deficit but we don’t want to put the deficit on the backs of students,” said Mungall, who would like to see the Liberals re-establish a $100 million needs-based student grant program.
Mungall said tuition continues to rise and for students to get an education to fill future jobs, they need to take out loans. And these are loans, and not grants.
“Students today pay the highest interest,” Mungall said, adding the B.C. Labour Market Outlook to 2020 suggests that 80 per cent of expected employment openings will require post secondary education.
“The government is not addressing the needs of future work force with what they have laid out today.”
As a result of the measures announced Tuesday, Falcon is now projecting a $154 million surplus for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
In 2014-15, he is projecting a surplus of $250 million.
For more information on Tuesday’s B.C. Budget, go to http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2012/02/budget-2012-focuses-on-a-stable-economy.html
For more of Mungall’s reaction go to the Nelson/Creston MLA's website http://www.michellemungall.com/contact.html