Heading into an election, governments usually like to throw around "good-news" spending announcements like candy.
But the BC Liberals committed themselves to balancing the books, leaving Finance Minister Mike de Jong little room for populist election goodies on Tuesday. No new hospital for Penticton, for example.
Other than a couple of bonuses for parents, there wasn't much to cheer about in this budget.
The Liberals, who could sorely use a boost in opinion polls, hung their hat squarely on the "sound fiscal managers" hook. That's not exactly sexy, vote-winning material, even though it may be the prudent thing to do. But, it does give us an idea how the Liberals will fight their campaign for a fourth term in office.
De Jong stole a couple of cards from the NDP's playbook, hiking personal income taxes on the wealthiest British Columbians and increasing corporate taxes by one per cent. As distasteful as tax hikes may be, these at least appear to have been aimed at those most able to afford it.
More troubling for average folk is yet another hike in medical services premiums - the sixth in just five years.
In fact, much of the savings will come at the expense of health care, with spending growth there slashed almost in half. Read that to mean longer waiting lists for care.
With the legislature soon to go dark as MLAs hit the campaign trail, will this ho-hum document be enough to strike a chord with voters?
- Managing Editor