The Provincial Government of the Province of British Columbia presented it’s final budget, prior to the May, 2013 election. The Government has predicated its budget proposals on certain revenue projections amounting to an average rise of three per cent annually. The Government will, however, hold the line on spending with average annual growth of just 1.5 per cent over three years, with the undertaking to apply any resulting surplus to paying down provincial debt.
With these objectives in mind, the four main components to the 2013 British Columbia Budget, are as follows:
- Sales of surplus properties and assets totaling $625 million over the next two years.
- Targeted tax measures projected to generate $1.2 billion additional revenue over the next three years
- Expenditure growth management expected to yield $1.1 billion over three years.
- Net economic growth expected to generate $1.7 billion in added revenue
On the program spending side of the ledger, the Government will invest $10.4 billion in taxpayer-supported capital projects over the next three years, including:
- Transportation infrastructure to get goods to market and improve rapid transit.
- New, replacement and renovated schools.
- Vancouver Island, Richmond, Kamloops and Kelowna.
- Health facilities like B.C. Children’s and Women’s Hospital, Surrey Memorial, Interior Heart and Surgical Centre, the two new North Island Hospitals, Lakes District Hospital, and Queen Charlotte/Haida Gwaii hospital.
Finance Minister De Jong announced a personal income tax increase of 2.1 percentage points to 16.8 per cent from 14.7 per cent for the next two years, when the income tax increase will expire. He further announced that corporate income taxes will rise to 11 per cent from 10 per cent on April 1. The cumulative effect of these and other minor tax increases implemented over the past few years by successive BC Liberal governments, is to undermine the legitimacy of their simultaneous claim that British Columbia remains a low tax jurisdiction in Canada.
From a tax and political policy perspective, the 2013 British Columbia Budget did not deviate from prior provincial budgets in any significant way, but was a bit of a mixed fiscal bag, that attempted to provide something for everyone, which often satisfies no one. While the current administration had a keen eye on the political parties to both the right and left on the eve of what will prove to be a contentious and hard fought election in three months time, to a large extent, this was a maintain the course budget for the province.
For more information on the 2013 British Columbia Budget, see: BC Budget 2013.