EDITORIAL: Election budget

Liberals using taxpayer money to seed a fund that was supposed to come from LNG tax revenues

It’s not difficult to be cynical about the provincial government’s budget released Tuesday, or at least portions of it.

Back during the 2013 election campaign, Premier Christy Clark promised a “prosperity fund” fed by tax revenue from liquid natural gas (LNG) projects.

Well, the fossil fuel market is in the tank and, alas, there is no LNG from any new plants in any tank in B.C. No worries, the premier essentially said on Tuesday. Details, schmetails. A promise is a promise, said the MLA for West Kelowna through her finance minister, so we’ll take $100 million in surplus and start this prosperity fund with some seed money.

First thing: this is taxpayer money the province is using, not tax revenue from any increased activity in B.C.’s LNG world.

Second thing: what kind of foolish accounting practices are being followed that build in hundreds of millions of surplus dollars for an operating budget? It’s not difficult: bring in the money, spend it on services. Or pay off debt. If you are bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars more than what you are willing to pay on services, tax us less. Or take away the sales tax. Or eliminate MSP fees.

Even the most trusting or naive of souls can see how this is shaping up. In about 14 months there will be a provincial election. So, exactly whose prosperity are we talking about with this fund?

This situation reveals a government that believes its electorate is as dumb as a post. Or a government that is so arrogant it believes it can do what it wants, when it wants, with our hard-earned money. Or a government that believes it can’t be beat in the current two-party system of this province because it’s the only right-of-centre option.

The last point is probably true. Thankfully, the majority of B.C.’s people don’t believe in big government. They believe in business, even big business. They don’t believe in government red tape or the need for cradle-to-grave care. If their government has to be beholden to special interests, they’d rather they be capitalist or business-based, not socialist or union-based.

There’s no denying that has been the record in B.C. for the vast majority of its history. However, once in a while, the people perceive arrogance and they see a government or party (Liberals or Socreds, take your pick) that needs to be taught a lesson.

Lesson time might be coming for the B.C. Liberals in

14 months.

— Editorial by John Harding

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