The big reveal of the B.C. budget comes out Tuesday, and it could be “the most newsworthy budget in years.”
Armed with a $2.2-billion surplus, Global BC’s chief political reporter Keith Baldrey says now’s the opportune time for the BC Liberals to strike, only three months before an election.
“Clearly the Liberal government wants to get a bit of a boost with the voters using the argument their fiscal management for three years leads to a tax cut in the fourth year. It’s interesting to see what comes out of it on Tuesday.”
Baldrey hints a promised tax cut is on the way, potentially involving a 1.0% or 0.5% cut to the PST.
“Keep in mind, if they cut the sales tax or any tax right now, it’s not going to go back up after the election. That’s the gamble the government has to take here, is that in times of economic downturn, they’re not going to be in a position to raise the tax to address that economic downturn.”
Aside from that, Baldrey says the Health Ministry stands to get a big bump to the tune of a half billion dollars, with education and the MCFD getting raises as well.
Would B.C. benefit more from MSP reform?
But Canadian Taxpayers Federation Director Jordan Bateman says British Columbians would benefit more from a reform of the Medical Service Premium tax.
He says the system is unfair, antiquated, and says the Premier herself has openly criticized it.
“People hate it, but it’s also a drag on the economy because it is a payroll tax. You know, for people who are lucky enough to have employers pay it, that does slow job growth and of course the Liberals are desperate to show that you know they’re masters of the economy and job growth.”
Bateman says the government should get rid of it.
“My advice would be to start the phase out of MSP and take two to four years to get it down to zero, even if it means wrapping some of it to the income tax system, there is that opportunity. And the sooner they get to work on it, the sooner that tax can be gone.”
If need be, he says MSP could be put into the income tax system so that those making $50,000 a year do not pay the same as those making six figures.
Baldrey says how the BC NDP respond to the budget will be interesting; given recent failures in the election, he adds it’s a possibility the NDP don’t release a balanced budget in order to fulfill lofty promises of more social services and day care.
With files from Estefania Duran