VICTORIA – Reducing income taxes for the top two per cent of wage earners cost the B.C. government $230 million that should have gone mainly to middle income earners, NDP leader John Horgan says.
Horgan and NDP finance critic Carole James focused on the measure in Tuesday's B.C. budget to end the tax increase on income over $150,000 a year. They acknowledged other measures to help low-income people but Horgan said "the middle class was left behind today."
Horgan stepped up the attack in the legislature Wednesday in his question period exchange with Finance Minister Mike de Jong.
"I can appreciate that the minister was celebrating with the champagne-and-caviar set yesterday, but the rest of British Columbia saw $700 million in increased fees and taxes on their backs," Horgan said. "Middle-income families are paying the freight, and you, the B.C. Liberals, deliberately and with intent chose to give a quarter of a billion dollars to people who didn't even ask for it."
De Jong brought the 2.1 per cent increase increase on the top tax bracket in 2013, and also increased the corporate tax rate by one per cent in order to present a balanced budget for the 2013 election.
De Jong said his commitment was to remove the personal tax increase after two years and this week's budget follows through on that pledge.
James said middle-income families are taking the brunt of rate increases for car insurance, ferry fares and BC Hydro, and the services available to them are declining.
"We're seeing hallway medicine. We're seeing overcrowded classrooms. We're seeing less support for seniors," James said.
Horgan pointed to modest tax breaks for high technology and film production industries, while four times as much government assistance is going to resource roads to develop B.C.'s natural gas export business.
With a surplus nearing $1 billion for the fiscal year ending in March, Horgan said his priorities would have included help for manufacturing in the forest sector to take advantage of a lower Canadian dollar.