B.C. New Democrat Leader John Horgan and Finance Spokesperson Carole James met a captive audience at the Blue Moose Coffeehouse during their post-budget tour on Wednesday, March 18th. The opposing forces, listed reasons for their discontent with the current budget and boldly offered reasons for their disapproving appraisal of the situation.
“I’d like to start with the fact that this budget tells British Columbians that even though they’re stretched to the limit, even though they’re already paying more in fees and rate hikes, with Budget 2015, they’re actually going to have to pay even more,” said James. “The Finance Minister and all of the B.C. Liberals on that side decided in this budget that they’d give a tax break to B.C.’s highest-income earners, the top two per cent in our province — that was a choice, a line item of over $200 million that is going to directly to the top of two per cent of income earners.
According to James and Horgan this type of activity puts pressure on middle-class families.
“The get more pressure, they get more costs, but don’t worry, there’s a break for those at the very top — they’ll get a break, but not the rest of of British Columbians,” she said.
Broken promises are on the minds of the NDP opposition.
“All we need to say to the public is HST, LNG, a doctor for everyone and debt-free B.C., this is just a very short list of a long list of promises that have not been kept by this government — but, oh don’t worry when it comes to the top two per cent of income earners, we’re going to make sure that that promise is kept, we’re going to make sure we’re following through on that, never mind all those other people in British Columbia who are struggling and having a hard time,” said James.
The Finance Minister is just letting the tax increase expire stated James. Inferring that the increase was expiring on its own as though the Finance Minister wasn’t deciding anything was a bone of contention for opposition.
“I’d like people to take a look a the budget speech by the Finance Minister, because in fact, there’s an entire section in that budget speech that’s called “Tax Credit Extension,” Carole said. “They certainly did choose to extend a number of tax measures. They certainly could have chosen the tax measure of keeping the increase on high-income earners — it was a choice to give a tax break and to use over $230 million of taxpayer dollars.
Horgan was just as adamant about the disregard for the rest of the populace, citing the vulnerability of lesser fortunate groups of B.C. citizens and maintaining that his party was aggressively rallying to rectify the situation on behalf of the more vulnerable of the population including, championing women’s issues, and just the general lack of funds for the truly disparate in society.
“What does that say to the person who works in the local supermarket whose husband passed away — she had to go back to work, she lost her house because they didn’t have a pension and he had a heart attack and died — she’s in her 60’s, what does this budget have to her and her family,” Horgan, told The Hope Standard.
The NDP strongly illuminated their thoughts stating that the message B.C. Liberals are sending to the populace is that you don’t matter, it’s the people earning top dollars that matter, it’s those people that we care about and that we have found money for.
Other points made by the NDP to concerned coffee goers were the inability for the B.C. government to to see reality and an inability to handle the truth about what’s going on with British Columbia.
“It’s the government inability to see the truth — we know that this Premier made a risk bet — a bet on LNG, all the time, every moment of every day, for the last number of years, that’s what we’ve been hearing from this Premier, and it’s not panning out the way this Premier had told all of us,” said James.