British Columbians earning up to $72,000 per year will see a 15 per cent cut in their income taxes beginning Jan. 1.

Premier Gordon Campbell took to the airwaves Wednesday night to announce the second-largest personal income tax cut in B.C.'s history.

The 22-minute address, ironically paid for by tax payers, was aimed at re-establishing Campbell's credibility after polls showed his popularity had dropped into the single digits.

Campbell said the tax cut will mean an immediate savings of $348 for people making $50,000 per year, and up to a maximum of $616 each year for those making $72,293 and under.

"Our government has always felt that the best thing we could do is leave more money in your pocket so you can make your own decision about what's best for you and for your family," he said.

This is a bold promise from a government known for its tax cutting policies. In all, 1.9 million British Columbian's will benefit from this reduction, which will cost the provincial treasury about $600 million per year.

Opposition leader Carole James reduced the tax cut to political bribery from a desperate government.

"It's a ridiculous way to set tax policy," she said. "This is trying to buy support from the public. The public doesn't trust this government."

Campbell began the address by explaining in detail why his government chose to introduce the much-hated HST.

While he defended the controversial tax, saying it was still the best economic policy for B.C., he did admit that more information could have been provided.

"If I had to do it over again, there's a lot more we would have done after the announcement was made, a lot more information we would have provided to you," he said. "I sure would have liked to."

It's a message he's been delivering since the results of a massive petition drive lead by Fight HST leader Bill Vander Zalm were released.

The petition showed that more than half-a-million British Columbians think the tax was a mistake, setting the stage for a referendum in Sept. 2011.

Campbell said the tax makes B.C. more competitive and will create jobs as well as help the province hang on to the jobs it already has.

For education, Campbell promised parents that within the next five years every child that leaves Grade Four will be reading, writing and doing math at a Grade Four level. One in five children in B.C. currently does not meet that standard.

He announced an expansion of the StrongStart program and the introduction of a voluntary early childhood learning assessment to help tailor early education.

"It's something that's worth doing because it opens up all kinds of opportunities for our young people in the province of British Columbia," he said.

These are bold promises that come at a crucial time for Campbell's increasingly unpopular government, but whether they will be enough to regain public support, remains to be seen.