Christy Clark renews promise of 4 balanced budgets
First session of 40th Parliament of the B.C. legislature kicks off in Victoria
B.C. Premier Christy Clark renewed her promises to balance the budget for the next four years, while pursuing the development of the province's liquefied natural gas industry, during the speech from the throne on Wednesday.
Clark also promised to freeze personal tax rates and the carbon tax for five years, pledged a renewed focus on jobs and skills training, and promised to work to improve trade with Asia.
The speech was read by Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, at the opening of the first session of the 40th Parliament, following the Liberals's victory in the May election.
It kicks off what is expected to be a month-long summer session for MLAs in Victoria. Tomorrow Finance Minster Mike de Jong is expected to table a rejigged version of the budget he tabled before the spring election.
Clark was not sitting in the house for the speech because she cannot yet enter the legislature, after losing her own seat in the election, forcing her to run in a July 10 byelection in Westside-Kelowna.
Instead, Clark made a speech at a Victoria construction site earlier in the day, outlining her government's priorities for the coming year.
Earlier in the day Liberal MLA Linda Reid was elected Speaker of the House.
Government spending review
Another major government initiative will be a core review of government spending, conducted by Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett.
"We're going to look for redundancies and duplications," said Bennett earlier in the day.
"We're going to look for situations where perhaps the public taxpayer is paying for something that could be more effectively delivered by the private sector.
"We did that in our first core review, we'll do that again. But everything is on the table. Nothing is sacred."
Bennett says he'll complete the review by December of next year. The last similar review took place in 2001 under the Gordon Campbell government and led to big budget cuts and public sector layoffs.
Bennett says B.C. has a lean public sector, so people shouldn't expect the same sort of cuts this time around.