On February 18th British Columbians will be watching to see if finance minister Mike de Jongs budget sets out a plan to deliver on his governments ambitious goals with respect to economic growth and job creation. And the truth is, the province needs it. The past year was a disappointing one for BC in terms of economic and employment growth compared to other provinces.
While Premier Christy Clark aims to create an environment where growth and investment can flourish, little has been achieved since last years electoral victory. If Premier Clark is to help British Columbians obtain the desired prosperity and jobs, her top economic priority should be to make BC the most investment-friendly jurisdiction in Canada.
Heres whats needed.
The BC Liberals and particularly Premier Christy Clark deserve the praise theyre receiving for their surprise electoral victory. After all, the Liberals reversed a double-digit deficit in the polls and ended up securing a majority government. This moment of jubilation for the Liberals and their supporters will be short-lived however, as the reality of governing in difficult times takes hold. The litmus test for the success of this government, which they themselves established, is the success of the economy and in particular, jobs.
Going by Finance Minister Mike de Jong's public comments, Tuesday's provincial budget is supposed to present a plan to finally balance the books. But after four consecutive years in the red, British Columbians can't yet breathe a collective sigh of relief. Critically important is how Minister de Jong plans to eliminate the deficit. Will he take the path of tax increases or spending reductions?
Where has conservatism gone? Coyne asked. Unfortunately, Post readers didn't have to look far for the answer - the adjacent page to be precise.
With economic uncertainty as the backdrop, it was critical for the BC government to put forth a prudent budget. Finance minister Kevin Falcon acknowledged as much by reassuring British Columbians that the budget was built on fiscal discipline and lays a firm foundation for the future. Falcon even warned of the perils of additional government taxes, spending, and borrowing in the current economic environment, calling such measures potentially catastrophic.
What are the top fiscal landmines that B.C. could hit in 2012 and what can the Liberals do to avoid them?
With the federal and B.C. governments both tabling budgets within a week of the Winter Olympics' closing ceremonies, both governments had a chance to build on the tremendous momentum and positive spirit of the Games.
Instead, both levels opted for mediocrity, delivering uninspiring and timid budgets that will do little, if anything, to prepare this province and country for economic growth.
BCs September Budget Update is unlikely to live up to its promise of protecting vital services and building for the future. Instead, the big-spending, tax-increasing, debt-loving budget is a step back from BC's recent progress and will burden, rather than build for, the future.
Start with the seemingly unavoidable $2.8 billion deficit. According to Finance Minister Colin Hansen, the government was forced into deficit largely as a result of a loss of $2 billion in expected revenues. The $2 billion figure certainly captured the attention of the media.
After nearly eight years of strong economic performance, B.C., like nearly all North American jurisdictions, is facing a difficult economic period. Now, however, is not the time to reverse course on economic policies that successfully lifted B.C. out of its 1990s economic malaise. Instead, the top priority for B.C.s next government should be to further strengthen the provinces investment climate and competitiveness.