B.C. Liberal finance critics Shirley Bond and Tracy Redies respond to first NDP budget. (Black Press)

BC BUDGET: Liberals blast ‘tax and spend’ plan

Payroll tax, carbon tax increase threaten growth, opposition critics say

The NDP minority government will keep B.C. finances in the black for the next three years, thanks to strong economic growth, Finance Minister Carole James says.

But B.C. Liberal finance critics Shirley Bond and Tracy Redies says they shouldn’t count on that growth as they add to the business tax burden, with a payroll tax to replace Medical Services Plan revenues and a carbon tax that is rising and no longer revenue neutral.

“This is a government that continues to have a massive spending promises and very little attention paid to revenue generation in the province,” Bond said. “If you can imagine adding a payroll tax, a carbon tax, the list of taxes is lengthy, on the very people that the NDP government are assuming will grow the economy.”

Redies said the NDP’s first budget predicts an 11 per cent increase in personal income tax revenue in the next year, equivalent to $1,000 for each family.

“On the resource side, revenues are actually predicted to drop in our core industries,” Redies said. “That should be astounding for British Columbians, that this government is predicting resource revenues, forestry, mines to decrease over the next three years.”

RELATED: Payroll tax to replace medical premiums

James’ first full budget predicts a surplus of $219 million in the fiscal year starting April 1, with surpluses of more than $280 million in the next two years. That is despite what the government describes as record investments in housing and child care and another large increase in health care spending.

The latest projections from the finance ministry show increased taxation and resource revenues this year, offset by $884 million less revenue from ICBC and $183 million more than forecast in wildfire costs for 2017-18.

Economic growth is projected to be 2.3 per cent in 2018, up from 2.1 per cent estimated last September.

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