Submitted. In its annual pre-budget submission to British Columbia’s Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) today called on the BC Liberal government to bring in the Debt Reduction Act they promised during the 2013 election campaign.
The B.C. debt clock is ticking toward $62 billion, nearly double its 2007 level of $33 billion. The debt grows by $159 per second, or $13.8 million per day. CTF supporters believe it’s time to stop the clock, and that a Debt Reduction Act ensuring 75 per cent of budget surpluses go toward debt reduction is an important start.
“In the 15 minutes I spent presenting to the finance committee, B.C.’s debt grew by $143,265,” said CTF B.C. Director Jordan Bateman. “It will take a lot of fiscal discipline to get B.C. debt-free, but every journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. A Debt Reduction Act, prioritizing debt repayment is that first step.”
The CTF also recommended a Legislative Financial Accountability Act, which would force lawmakers to include cost estimates for every piece of legislation they introduce. New laws, programs and regulations are not cheap, yet no publicly available cost analysis is done on legislation.
“MLAs love to order from the menu – even when they don’t know the cost of the bill,” said Bateman. “Adding cost estimates to legislation would give taxpayers and lawmakers a better understanding of the short- and long-term costs of government business.”
Other CTF recommendations include:
- Equipping local government with professional expertise and data to better manage labour costs;
- Long term planning to reduce government reliance on BC Hydro and ICBC dividends;
- Resisting new food taxes.
The B.C. Government has adopted several of the CTF’s pre-budget recommendations in recent years, including full disclosure of MLA expenses (2012-13), eliminating the Pacific Carbon Trust (2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15), slowing the increase in health care spending (2012-13), initiating a core review (2013-14), keeping the Balanced Budget and Ministerial Accountability Act in place (2013-14) and cutting the size of the PavCo board of directors (2014-15).