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Old 02-18-2015, 03:55 PM   #1
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BC's 3rd Consecutive "Balanced Budget"

B.C. delivers 'fiscal hat trick' with third consecutive balanced budget

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VICTORIA — British Columbia has sidestepped the economic turmoil plaguing other provinces to deliver a balanced budget, with a modest surplus earmarked for debt repayment rather than new social programs.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said Tuesday’s $46.4-billion budget, which projects a surplus of $284 million in 2015/16, is B.C.’s third consecutive set of balanced books and a “fiscal hat trick” that makes the rest of Canada envious.

“We are unique, by any measure, in terms of our fiscal situation and the strength of our fiscal situation here in British Columbia,” said de Jong.

De Jong credited B.C.’s diverse economy, which doesn’t rely as heavily on oil as other provinces and which splits its exports between the American and Asian markets.

That has left B.C. positioned as one of the only provinces in Canada to project a surplus next year at a time when governments such as Alberta are slashing spending due to falling oil revenues. Ottawa has delayed even tabling its budget.

But B.C.’s slim surplus is also because the Liberal government has shown a willingness to ignore critics that demand it spend any extra money on improving social programs, raising welfare rates, increasing the minimum wage and bolstering the education system.

And the province continues to rely heavily on almost $5.6 billion in revenue from “fees” on taxpayers, through increased Medical Service Plan premiums, post-secondary tuition and Motor Vehicle Act charges, among others.

The government did offer one concession to low-income British Columbians Tuesday by scrapping its policy of clawing back child support payments from single parents on income or disability assistance. The move will cost B.C. $9 million a year, but means 3,200 families receive — on average — $300 a month in addition to their $946 income assistance or $1,242 disability payments.

“We’re very pleased,” said Adrienne Montani, of advocacy agency First Call B.C. “This is the kids’ money … and it’s a victory for the moms and dads.”

NDP critic Michelle Mungall, whose persistent criticism of the policy prompted the government retreat, called it a “great day for families.”

Most ministries saw flatline spending, and only the health care system, which de Jong described as the “monster” expenditure, saw any serious cash infusion. Health spending will rise $491 million next year, and the entire health care system now eats up $19 billion annually, or 42 per cent of government’s entire budget.

Business groups praised the government’s prudent underestimating of economic growth at 2.3 per cent next year.

“It’s the sum total of a number of years of very positive management of the economy and policies put in place to be fiscally responsible,” said John Winter, CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

Teachers, nurses, and social service workers slammed the Liberals for underfunding their sectors.

A $149-million infusion into the K-12 education system next year, primarily to fund new teacher contracts, came with the demand school boards cut $29 million in administration.

B.C. School Trustees Association president Teresa Rezansoff said there’s little room to cut district budgets, and B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker called it a broken promise by government to fund better classroom conditions.

The Opposition NDP cast the budget as a choice by the Liberal government to download increased costs onto the middle class while allowing a temporary tax hike to expire on those who earn more than $150,000.

“They made a very clear choice in this budget, they said no to average families and hard-working British Columbians,” said NDP critic Carole James.

In addition to its 2015/16 numbers, the budget also updated the surplus projection for the current 2014/15 fiscal year ending March 31. That year’s $444 million surplus has ballooned to $879 million.

De Jong said the first draw upon that surplus, and any others, will be to pay off almost $10 billion in “operating debt” government used “to pay for groceries” by running deficits after the 2008 recession.

The budget predicts cutting operating debt to $4.8 billion by 2017/18, which would be the lowest level since 1990.

But any progress will be quickly swamped by growth in B.C.’s overall debt, which is set to rise to $65.9 billion next year and balloon to $70.4 billion by 2017/18. In part, that’s the result of a $19-billion capital plan to build new highways, schools and hospitals over the next three years.

The budget’s only other new items were small tax credits for children’s sports equipment, volunteer teachers, and $5 million toward improving the condition of animal shelters operated by the B.C. SPCA.

rshaw@vancouversun.com
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:03 PM   #2
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and of course we need to vote yes for the 0.5% Translink tax increase so they can get even larger bonuses then they already have... With all of the hospital, school and other cuts its sick seeing that we have a balanced budget so they can look good when we all know what the real truth it...
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:10 PM   #3
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Coles Notes:

1) a $46.4-billion budget, which projects a surplus of $284 million in 2015/16
2) BC's 3rd consecutive balanced budget
3) the surplus comes as a result of the BC Liberals' refusal to increase spending on social programs and education systems
4) BC continues to rely heavily on a $5.6B revenue from taxpayer fees, on top of taxes the province already collects
5) cancelling claw back of child support payments for single parents on income/disability assistance, estimated at 3200 families benefiting from this move
6) healthcare funding gets a $491M increase, eating up $19B/yr or 42% of the provincial budget
7) $149M extra for K-12 to hire new teachers, but also requires $29M in cuts from school admin
8) 2014/15 surplus increased from $444M to $879M
9) $10B will be spent on paying down operating debt, which is projected to reduce to $4.8B by 2017/18 -- the lowest since 1990
10) overall debt will continue to increase -- to $65.9B next year, and $70.4B in 2017/18

Last edited by Traum; 02-18-2015 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:11 PM   #4
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I don't consider it a balanced budget when they are taking massive dividends from bc hydro to make it balanced....
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:32 PM   #5
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My first raw impression of this budget is -- I can project a gigantic personal budget surplus too, if I don't fxxking spend a dime to fix up all the shxt that's broken at home...

This balanced budget talk is just absolute bullshxt. The provincial government is raping various crown corp's wallets to balance their books, leaving those very same crown corp cash strapped *cough* BC Hydro *cough* ICBC *cough*. It is masking the monetary burden on taxpayers with a "no tax increase" facade while passing down all the costs as user fees instead. It continues to provide no new funding to the already much criticized and vastly underfunded social programs. It continues to cut K-12 school admin fundings when it has already been carved down to the bones.

The only place that I will not slam the government on is the 1/2 billion funding increase for healthcare. I have yet to find out how the money will get spent, but I remain skeptical of how well that will translate into actual patient benefits.
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traum View Post
My first raw impression of this budget is -- I can project a gigantic personal budget surplus too, if I don't fxxking spend a dime to fix up all the shxt that's broken at home...

This balanced budget talk is just absolute bullshxt. The provincial government is raping various crown corp's wallets to balance their books, leaving those very same crown corp cash strapped *cough* BC Hydro *cough* ICBC *cough*. It is masking the monetary burden on taxpayers with a "no tax increase" facade while passing down all the costs as user fees instead. It continues to provide no new funding to the already much criticized and vastly underfunded social programs. It continues to cut K-12 school admin fundings when it has already been carved down to the bones.

The only place that I will not slam the government on is the 1/2 billion funding increase for healthcare. I have yet to find out how the money will get spent, but I remain skeptical of how well that will translate into actual patient benefits.
Plus they continually downloaded infrastructure costs to "independent" agencies like BC Ferries and Translink. Anytime there's a upcoming expense that's significant they find some reason to hand it off to an "independent" agency while not providing any funding or support for it (Hello Patullo Bridge!).

So while it's apparently A-OK to spend $3B on a replacement for the Massey Bridge it's not ok to spend $250M/yr for transit/GVRD Infrastructure.

Total bullshit governance.
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:18 PM   #7
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Dont have kids, dont use social programs, work hard and the liberals have kept promised and not cut and taxed portions of the industry i work in like the NDP would have

So all in all pretty happy on my end.

It's the same shit with the Federal govt. Everyone bitches and complains all the time but would you really trust any other party than the Conservatives? i wouldn't.
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:08 PM   #8
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I can't believe that this differentiation between a balanced operating budget and their capital expenditures still keeps people warm at night.

Wake the fuck up, we're 70 billion in the hole, and the industry Crusty Cunt promised us would generate billions of dollars and 100,000 jobs by 2018 isn't anything besides a bill trapped in the legislature.

The government needs to stop sugar coating information for this kindergarten civilization of ours.

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Old 02-18-2015, 11:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traum View Post
My first raw impression of this budget is -- I can project a gigantic personal budget surplus too, if I don't fxxking spend a dime to fix up all the shxt that's broken at home...

This balanced budget talk is just absolute bullshxt.
A $284 million dollar surplus is certainly a lot of money, but bearing in mind that the BC budget is $46 billion dollars, it represents just slightly over 0.5% of the budget. In other words, approximately 99.5% of all proceeds are earmarked. Since a budget at its very core is only an estimate, I don't consider it at all unreasonable to leave 0.5% unallocated as estimates are by nature not always correct. I would much rather they use the 0.5% of contingency funds when something doesn't go quite to plan then have to make an emergency rash decision to cut funding from somewhere to pay the bills.

I don't maintain strong opinions on politics, but as an accountant I take issue to your interpretation. They didn't choose to "project a gigantic budget surplus" in lieu of "fixing all the shxt that's broken" but instead used all funds they reasonably could.

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Old 02-18-2015, 11:32 PM   #10
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And all they have to do is keep fucking over teachers!
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:07 AM   #11
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Mark, I know what you're saying, and I suppose I didn't do a good enough job of conveying the message that I wanted to get across, so lemme try again.

What I wanted to say is, my raw impression to the budget was that, "Gee... I can easily come up with a balanced budget as well if I were to conveniently leave certain expenses out of the calculation. Heck, I can even come up with a frivolous budget that features a gigantic budget surplus by factoring out all my expenses to "independent" and "separate" entitles." I am not saying a 0.5% surplus is gigantic -- on paper, the budget as presented by the Finance Minster is balanced. All I am saying is, surplus or not, this budget is rather meaningless since a lot of numbers are conveniently left out. With the way they are fudging the numbers, they could have a surplus, a deficit, big or small, whatever number they want to show.

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A $284 million dollar surplus is certainly a lot of money, but bearing in mind that the BC budget is $46 billion dollars, it represents just slightly over 0.5% of the budget. In other words, approximately 99.5% of all proceeds are earmarked. Since a budget at its very core is only an estimate, I don't consider it at all unreasonable to leave 0.5% unallocated as estimates are by nature not always correct. I would much rather they use the 0.5% of contingency funds when something doesn't go quite to plan then have to make an emergency rash decision to cut funding from somewhere to pay the bills.

I don't maintain strong opinions on politics, but as an accountant I take issue to your interpretation. They didn't choose to "project a gigantic budget surplus" in lieu of "fixing all the shxt that's broken" but instead used all funds they reasonably could.

Mark

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Old 02-19-2015, 12:02 PM   #12
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yes NDP, lets just spend money we don't have
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:21 PM   #13
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i was a kid once. and schools tried to get us into politics and voting (in grade 3-4), and tried to explain to us why we should vote and all that shit (i just remember all the girls voted for the woman, and all the dudes voted for whoever sounded coolest). but i never understood cuz nothing ever changed as i grew up. even if i were oblivious to politics, my life was never affected. i guess i have to grow up and start doing adult stuff first before i notice...

like two and a half decades later... the only thing that has impacted my life directly is the god damn bike lanes.

i could vote, or not vote. not a god damn thing changes.

we need some fucking extremists on the voting cards.

where's the party, where when they win, they'll do something so dramatic, you'll either vote for them or vote against them?

i swear i could close my eyes and live my life till i get old and die, and i wouldn't notice when the hydra switches heads.

at this point i'll just vote for any party that removes the god damn bike lanes.

or brings back the indy.

teachers under funded, this under funded. that underfunded. some mother fucker is always underfunded and bitching. that's also a constant... as long as it's not your sector, then it's a-ok.
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:49 PM   #14
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It continues to provide no new funding to the already much criticized and vastly underfunded social programs.

Great, more category 5 poop storms on East Cordova!
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:28 PM   #15
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you forgot the msp increase... which is effectively a tax
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