“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up.”
― George R.R. Martin
There is no greater tragedy than the governments Public Accounts being released in the heat of summer, when the sirens song of summer turns voters attention to everything and anything but politics – and no greater boon for the Christy Clark Liberals in charge.
As expected by many, while the government heavily relied on the tabling of a ‘surplus’ and a balanced operating budget in press opportunities, the magnitude of the debt the province is carrying was for the most part, glossed over.
There was little talk of how the ‘surplus’ was actually tabled… except by the BC NDP:
“This government says they are bringing in a modest surplus, but what they aren’t telling the public is that it’s the result of charging hard-working British Columbians more for things like Medical Service Premiums,” said New Democrat finance critic Mike Farnworth.
“Families are already stretched to the limit when it comes to affording the basic necessities, yet this government thinks it’s completely acceptable to gouge hard-working people with increased fees across the board.”
Farnworth was responding today to the release of Public Accounts from the 2013-14 financial year. The report shows that 86 per cent, or $303 million, of the government’s published surplus of $353 million was derived from an “Increase in fees and licenses.”
“The fee increases include another Medical Service Premium increase of four per cent,” added Farnworth. “This year, like each of the last five years, when families came to insure themselves and their children for health services, the Liberal government demanded that they pay more. In the meantime, the Liberal government spent less on health than they budgeted for in 2013-14 despite a crisis in many B.C. hospitals.”
“These fee increases don’t even include the 28-per-cent hydro hike the Liberals forced onto families or rate increases at ICBC,”
Hmm – a minor/not so minor detail left out of the Liberal press release when heralding a modest surplus… and one that did indeed impact many British Columbians, including friends and colleagues. It’s not a new form of revenue seeking for the Liberals, who under the Campbell government reduced personal income taxes to the lowest level ever, but never replaced the resulting loss of tax revenue with an alternate revenue stream to replace it.
They’ve been playing catch up ever since, and with some sources of resource revenue in a steady decline, paints a picture that isn’t very pretty, or fiscally responsible.
In fact, the debt load has been steadily increasing under Christy Clark,an irony missed by few:
“For a government that sought re-election on the promise, blazoned on the side of the campaign bus, of a “Debt-Free B.C.,” the public accounts released this week provide a sobering reality check.
Total provincial debt as of March 31, the end of the last financial year: $60.693 billion.
Total provincial debt inherited by Christy Clark when she took the oath of office as premier in mid-March 2011: $45.154 billion.
Increase: $15.539 billion, or 34 per cent.”
Nothing to see here folks, as BC Mary used to say…move along, keep it moving…
Yes in fact, the situation is so dire, Christy Clark has cinched the belts so tight, that only the most essential spending is allowed:
I would laugh if it wasn’t so sad. Christy’s promise of a debt- free future thanks to LNG is looking dimmer all the time – It’s a risky move, and rare is the financial advisor who would endorse putting all your eggs in one basket. But here’s the catch. Voters memories are strange and remarkable thing.
While occasionally a politician will commit some heinous act or make a comment so remarkably stupid they effectively end their own careers, surprisingly voters memories are often so short they elect the same government again and again. And end up complaining about them over and over. Rob Ford didn’t happen by accident, my friends.
The truth is, things aren’t going as planned for the so-called ‘new’ BC Liberals and it’s not exactly breaking news that the provincial debt with lackluster revenues is going to leave our kids and grandchildren a legacy of debt. And while claiming austerity, the public accounts are full of examples of skewed spending priorities. They’ve had to take from Peter to pay Paul and guess what? You’re Peter in this scenario and Paul is up the creek without a paddle in this LNG fantasy.
When you compare the promises of the New BC Liberal platform under Christy Clark, as compared to the very first platform of the same old/new Liberals under Gordon Campbell, with the exception of Clark’s penchant for LNG, there isn’t much difference at all.
Proving once again that when it comes to the BC Liberals, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
*** I encourage readers to take a look at the entire set of public accounts, at this link: http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ocg/pa/13_14/Pa13_14.htm