Kootenay West MLA scoffs at latest budget forecast

MLA Katrine Conroy isn’t optimistic about the province's pledge to balance the budget before the next election in 2013.

  • Nov. 30, 2011 5:00 p.m.

The joke of what is black and white and red all over is the province’s pledge to balance the budget before the next election in 2013, but Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy isn’t laughing.

The provincial government’s Finance Minister Kevin Falcon revealed Monday that deterioration of international economies will impact B.C.’s bottom line — meaning the government is now projecting a year-end deficit above $3 billion, up from $2.8 billion.

Conroy said anybody following where the world economy has been going, and what is happening in B.C., knew hard times were coming for B.C. finances. She was disheartened the person in charge of the province’s finances came out now with his revelation.

“It’s just ridiculous that he didn’t know this was going to happen,” she said. “He should have known that and he should have planned for it.”

When the budget for the year was presented last February, a $350 million forecast allowance was included to help ease the hit of a drop in revenues. Seven months later Falcon was still saying the province would balance its books in two years, despite the defeat of the HST referendum significantly impacting the province’s finances.

Finance officials figured the decision by voters to drop the HST would have a three-year cumulative effect of $2.3 billion on the budget. Less than two months after his comments, Falcon delivered his second quarterly financial report saying revenues have decreased by $303 million in B.C.

Conroy pointed to the corporate tax cuts made in the early days of the government coming back to haunt them.

“We’re paying that price right now,” she said. “We’re paying for the big, fat tax cut they gave corporations in the early days and that just keeps coming back.”

With files from Canadian Press