North Coast MLA says he will vote against provincial budget

The Liberal government unveiled its new provincial budget last week, describing it as a “status quo” budget.

  • Feb. 23, 2011 9:00 a.m.

The Liberal government unveiled its new provincial budget last week, describing it as a “status quo” budget. The budget has will produce a $925-million deficit and will lower personal income and corporate tax rates, which according to the Liberals will help to make B.C. a competitive business environment. Local MLA, Gary Coons, says that “status quo” really means a do-nothing budget and says he will vote against it. “There’s nothing to address or stimulate the economy or create jobs, no help for B.C. families. We hugely need a poverty reduction strategy; we need to rise the minimum wage . . . This is definitely a disappointment for British Columbians who were expecting a real budget after nine months of not sitting the legislature in order to build a strategy. Obviously there isn’t one,” says Coons.In 2011 the Liberal government will be reducing the corporate tax rate to 10 per cent. The argument for this is that it will make B.C. more attractive to corporation who might be considering moving into the province and allow the one’s already here to keep more money so it can be reinvested to expand their operations and create more jobs.Prince Rupert’s path to economic prosperity hinges on its port and the handful of large shipping corporations that do business out of it. The argument could be made that the corporate tax cuts will mean more jobs and faster expansion in the port, which will directly benefit Rupertites. Coons says that he does not buy the Liberal Party’s conservative argument that what is good for corporations is good for average people. He says that too many tax cuts have led to reductions in social services that Rupertites depend on.“I think it’s a right wing ideology that says tax cuts create jobs. What we need is a fair taxation policy for everybody to insure that we have the services that British Columbians need…I believe people don’t mind paying taxes as long as they see the services. And what we’re seeing with these tax cuts is the decimation of the education system, skyrocketing ferry fares and the centralization of northern communities,” says Coons. Coons says its not just tax policy that bothers him, there are also $6-million worth of cuts to crown prosecutors across the province, a $36-million cut to B.C. student aid, and a 6 per cent increase in Medical Service Plan premiums. All of these he says will   have an adverse affect on Prince Rupert and other Northern Communities.The new budget also puts up $3-billion to build cancer treatment facilities including one in Prince George and a $200 tax credit for northern and rural homeowners.