(Vancouver) The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says the provincial government is once again low-balling revenues, understating 2006/07’s projected surplus by about $1.5 billion.
“We need to have an honest budget debate,” says Marc Lee, the CCPA’s Senior Economist. “There are pressing needs in BC that this budget fails to address, yet if you look beneath the surface, the money is there. The government’s revenue forecasts don’t match their own expectations for economic growth, and they have built in huge contingency and forecast allowances that together hide billions of revenues over the next three years. The government is trying to keep expectations low and is short-changing British Columbians in the process.”
“The government deserves credit for not giving into pressure for major tax cuts and for making investments in a few important areas,” says Seth Klein, the CCPA’s BC Director. “However, all of the spending increases are well below what is the CCPA showed is possible in its BC Solutions Budget, released last week.”
“When we are honest about the true size of the surplus, we can make a real difference in peoples’ lives,” says Klein. “We could have a fully funded early learning and child care program — in contrast, this budget adds no new provincial money. We could increase welfare rates by 50%, so that a single person would see their daily living allowance rise from $6 to $9 — but this budget offered no increase to welfare rates. We could get serious about fixing the crisis at the Ministry of Children and Family Development and reinstate an independent Child, Youth and Family Advocate — yet this so-called children’s budget doesn’t go nearly far enough in spending on services for children and families.”
To arrange an interview, call Shannon Daub at 604-801-5121 x226 (or after 5PM on Tuesday, call Marc Lee at 604-836-2272).