Budget 2016 is in the books, and there’s no doubt it held some big stories.
But while housing relief, MSP changes, and the Ministry of Children and Family Development got plenty of attention, plenty of small details slipped through.
Here are a few nuggets from the budget you may not have seen yet.
1) Last year’s surplus was bigger than anticipated, coming in at $377 million after the province pulled $100 million from it to seed the “BC Prosperity Fund,” formerly known as the LNG prosperity fund. B.C. is projected to be in the black this year too, with surpluses straight through to 2018/19.
2) Even so, the provincial debt is still rising. It’s pegged at $67.6 billion this year but will climb to almost $71.9 billion in the next three years. That’s because the province is shelling out $20.6 billion for projects including schools, hospitals, infrastructure, and hydro projects. Power generation and transmission alone will burn up more than $15 billion, including $8.7 billion for the Site-C dam.
3) There are some big winners and losers when it comes to revenues this year. The property transfer tax added nearly $1.5 billion to the bottom line last year, and will bring in $1.2 billion this year.
MSP premiums are set to climb to more than $2.5 billion this year, and keep climbing up to nearly $2.8 billion by 2018/19.
On the losing side, the Port Mann Bridge will lose about $100 million every year of the government’s three year forecast.
Natural Gas royalties are also a dud. Projections put them at $128 million this year (Budget 2015 had projected $402 million this year). Estimates have them nearly doubling by 2018… but based on a prediction gas prices will jump 60% by then.
4) The province is kicking $75 million over three years in to a rural dividend fund.
The money will go to help communities with a population of less than 25,000 diversify their economies.
Priority will be given to projects that build community capacity, expand learning or skill development, help to keep rural youth in their community, or encourage collaboration with First Nations.
5) Hydro rates are going up again. As a part of the province’s 10 year plan, rates will jump 4% next year, and 3.5% the following two years.
6) But you might be eligible for an income tax break next year. The province is boosting the BC Tax Reduction Credit (that is, the amount you can earn before the province begins collecting income tax) by $400 to $19,400.
7) The province is also launching a farmer’s food donation tax credit.
Individual or corporate farmers are now eligible for a non-refundable 25% tax credit on the value of agricultural products donated to a registered charity.
6) The seniors home renovation tax credit has been expanded to include people with disabilities. The credit is for renovations done to a home to improve accessibility or help with mobility. The credit is worth up to $1,000 a year, and can be calaimed for 10% of the qualifying renovation.
7) Despite last year’s record fire season, there is no change in the firefighting budget, which remains set at $63 million.