The Spring Legislative Session has seen the passage of the Government’s budget which included the end of a temporary 2.1% tax increase on people earning over $150,000 per year. It was one promise the government wanted to keep, at a cost to the public of $236 million.
This tax reduction for the top 2% of British Columbian earners has contributed to the need to increase fees, conveniently not called “taxes”. Hydro rates are up 6% (the increase was 9% last year, so we should be happy), MSP rates increased again on January 1st by 4%, tuition has doubled in 10 years, basic ICBC rates went up 5.2% a few months ago, camping fees in our Provincial Parks are going up (now with plans for regular increases) and ferry fares…you know…April 1st is coming. I just point this out to expose the falseness of government’s claim about looking out for families.
The best part of the budget were measures taken to encourage filmmakers to keep their post-production work in British Columbia and the continuation of the interactive digital media tax credit. Other measures were kept in place to encourage mining exploration.
I have met with a number of groups since returning to Victoria for the Spring Session including the BC Building Trades, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (including Executive Vice-President Laura Jones who has strong ties to the Sunshine Coast), and the Alliance for BC Students.
There are nine all-party Select Standing Committees in B.C., most of which do not meet. For some reason, including members of the Opposition in decision making, or even in policy discussions doesn’t seem to be part of our democratic system any more. As a member of the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs I’m still waiting for our first meeting –as are the members of the Education Committee and the Crown Corporation Committees. The Committees that do meet and issue reports, such as Finance or Child & Youth, engage in consultations but do not have much authority or carry significant weight.
When we heard the news of a 14-year old boy being denied passage on the last Horseshoe Bay – Langdale sailing of the day, despite only being one minute past the 10-minute cutoff and having nowhere to go, I heard from many constituents who told similar stories. So last night coming home from the Legislature via Little River, I was pleased when the Captain announced that due to heavy rains which slowed traffic on the Island Highway, “we’re going to wait ten minutes to make sure folks get home tonight.” It’s good to see common sense win over rules.