B.C. reports $1.5B surplus in first full NDP budget
In the first full budget the NDP minority government tabled after coming to power two years ago, B.C. posted a $1.53-billion surplus.
That's about seven times higher than the projected surplus of $219 million. The higher-than-expected figures for the year ending March 31, 2019 came primarily from increased personal and corporate taxes, which pushed revenues up by $4.4 billion compared to the year before.
The official opposition counted 19 new or increased taxes introduced by the government and said in a release that’s no way to run an economy.
“John Horgan’s 19 new or increased taxes are having a devastating impact on British Columbians while their government refuses to lay out an economic or jobs plan. The NDP government’s primary source of revenue continues to the pockets of tax payers” said Liberal Finance Co-Critic Shirley Bond.
Yet Finance Minister Carole James insisted her budget is better balanced with less of an emphasis on housing sales, which she claimed the previous Liberal government was overly focused on.
“That’s really where you saw the largest growth coming was from speculation and real estate and now as we know money laundering as well. From our perspective we’re looking to grow the economy sustainably for the long term,” James said at a news conference delivering audited finances, also known as Public Accounts, for the 2018-19 budget year.
Property transfer taxes were $400 million lower than budget expectations. Asked about the slumping numbers, James said the government wanted to see a moderation in the real estate market and is prepared to deal with that.
The government also increased spending throughout the 2018-19 fiscal year, boosting money for education, health, and emergency response. Even with that additional spending, the surplus is still $1.53 billion.
Before you wonder if taxpayers will get a piece of that in the form of a tax break, the finance minister says there are many risks ahead, including expected slowdowns in major global economies. To help protect against any potential impacts on B.C., James said, it’s not prudent to offer a tax break at this time.
“Surpluses come each year so it's often one time money. It's not necessarily long-term, continued dollars,” she said.