B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong tabled what he described as a "boring, balanced budget" Tuesday, with few surprises or goodies for British Columbian taxpayers.
Highlights of the three-year fiscal plan included:
- A focus on balance, with budget surpluses of $184 million, $206 million and $451 million over the next three tax years
- Large contingency funds, prudent growth estimates and modest surpluses, leading to a potential cushion of almost $2.9 billion by 2016/2017
- An increase in total debt to $68.9 billion over three years but a drop in debt-to-GDP ratio to 17.8 per cent by 16/17.
- A potential two-tier taxation regime for liquefaction of natural gas in B.C. will see operators taxed 1.5 % for the first three years, eventually rising to up to seven per cent.
- Tax on tobacco will rise to $3.20 per carton from April 1, 2014, on top of a recent federal increase of $4 per carton, adding a total of $7.20 per carton.
- MSP premiums will increase by four per cent, taking the cost for the average family up to $144 per month. Healthcare spending will increase $2.5 billion over three years.
- Threshold for the Property Transfer Tax exemption increased for first-time buyers to $475,000, while the threshold for the phase-out of the Home Owner Grant is lowered to $1.1 million.
- Early Childhood Tax Benefit, mentioned last year, gives up to $55/month to families with children under the age of six from April 2015.
- The promised Training and Education Savings Grant, a $1200 RESP- contribution to any child born on or after Jan. 1, 2007 begins April 2014.