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February 19, 2015

The Benefits of A(nother) Balanced Budget

February 10, 2015 – Throne Speech day. A day where we pause from our fast-paced 21st Century lives to embrace the historic traditions of the 21 gun salute, and watch her Majesty’s representative take to the red carpet that lines the Legislature steps only once a year.

It’s also a day where British Columbians near and far take to the Twittersphere and become self-proclaimed pundits.

This year’s theme among the critics? That the Throne Speech was dull, that the BC Liberals had run out of ideas, and that the speech set the tone for a boring budget to come.

But one thing struck me as I read these comments, and it’s that there’s nothing boring about a third consecutive balanced budget – especially in this shaky economic climate. And there’s certainly nothing boring about being the only government in Canada sure to balance its books.

You see, a balanced budget benefits all British Columbians. How?

  • It allows us to keep taxes low.
  • It increases trust in our province’s finances which helps to attract more investment in businesses, more jobs, and more economic growth here at home.
  • It ensures the programs we rely on are there when you need them – like world class health care, and education.
  • It means having more money in your pocket to register your kids for hockey, or have the freedom to go on vacation.

None of that screams boring to me.

We can all agree that it hasn’t always been glamorous for our Finance Minister and his predecessors.

In 2009,  like most of the world, BC found itself in the depths of the global recession. In response, government had to take action to support our economy, and rebuild it back into the black.

That meant having to work extra hard to protect jobs and support the economy. It meant having to get creative to attract investment. It meant having to say “no” to reckless spending, and carefully counting every dollar.

It also meant doubling down and rebuilding the wreck from the global hit while still bringing BC out of the have-not status it accrued under the NDP in the 90’s.

Thanks to these actions, British Columbia has emerged from the recession as one of the strongest, and most stable economies in Canada. These measures helped to create jobs and growth. And that work – while not yet complete – is paying off.

Today, amidst a global economy that remains fragile, we are expecting a surplus of $879 million. This means more investment in services like education and state-of-the-art Cancer Prevention. This means paying down the debt for the next generation.

This also means more money for you – the taxpayer.

Of course, not everyone agrees with our approach. John Horgan and the BCNDP strongly oppose our plan, and have indicated they’d hike spending, and raise taxes. They also forecasted over 4 years of provincial deficit in their 2013 platform.

I’d take “boring” any day over consecutive deficits and abysmal fiscal records.

After a while, having no opportunity, no money, and mountains of debt gets kind of old. Living from experience, we as BC Liberals know this to be true.

So to those “bored” by our budget, I’ll borrow a line from Premier Christy Clark: It’s not our job to generate headlines.

It’s our job to keep British Columbia a thriving hub of economic activity and investment. It’s our job to make sure British Columbians have jobs, education, and health care. It’s our job to keep British Columbia the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

And with this balanced budget – we’re doing just that.

By Jillian Stead