The provincial budget to be delivered in the legislature on Tuesday will be a meaningless document.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong is set to unveil a balanced budget. Few, if any, election goodies are expected, but the B.C. Liberals will be able to go into the election campaign touting that the province's finances are in good shape under their stewardship.
It's expected the legislature will adjourn, however, before the budget receives final approval.
It will never become law. So, really, that makes Tuesday's budget speech a pointless exercise.
And that's just one reason why proposals to move B.C.'s fixed election date from the spring to fall make sense.
The latest calls came from three independent MLAs, who recommend a series of sensible electoral reforms, including moving the fixed date.
With a fall election, British Columbians would go to the polls with a clearer understanding of the state of provincial finances.
A budget would have time to be passed and debated and, more importantly, a final accounting of the previous year's finances would be completed in July before the fall vote. That would tell us whether the government has told us the truth or not.
We've been burned before by having votes too close to budget time. Many people recall the NDP's fudge-it budget that painted a rosy picture of the province's finances before the 1996
election. After the election, it was discovered we were deeply in debt.
Prior to the 2009 election, the B.C. Liberals presented a budget with a $495-million deficit. After they won the May election, the Liberals released a fall economic update with a revised deficit of $2.8 billion.
Again on May 14, we'll be voting with only the government's word our finances are good shape. Based on track records, that's not reliable
- City Editor Pat Bulmer
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