No fall legislative session, say B.C. Liberals
Government says it is still on track to balance province budget
There will be no fall sitting of the B.C. legislature, meaning the house will only sit for a total of 36 days this year, Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced on Tuesday morning.
The decision to hold a fall session is traditionally up to the discretion of the government.
De Jong defended the decision, saying governing is not just about being in the legislature.
"The duties of MLAs, of elected officials, do not begin and end in the legislative chamber."
But NDP House Leader John Horgan was crying foul over the Liberals' decision not to hold a fall legislative session.
Horgan said the 85 MLAs are elected to represent their constituents in Victoria and not having that opportunity is offensive.
"You don't do that by running government out of a Vancouver office building, and that is apparently what Ms Clark wants to do," he said.
"That and airports, as she trots around the country trying to sell one facet of our economy rather than the whole thing."
Horgan noted taxpayers spend $70 million every year to keep the legislature running and quipped the least the Liberal government could do is show up.
B.C. budget balanced on 'razor's edge'
The finance minister also released the September budget update in Victoria on Tuesday morning.
As part of the budget update, he confirmed the province is still on track to post a budget surplus, but it's balanced on a "razor's edge" with no room for additional spending.
"The year-end surplus for 2013-14 is now projected to be $136 million, which is down slightly by $17 million from the June budget update," said a statement released by de Jong as part of the September quarterly update.
- Read about the June quarterly budget update
- Read about Premier Christy Clark's promise to balance the budget
"Revenues have improved by $69 million, partly offsetting higher expenses of $86 million, primarily for statutory spending on fighting fires and flood-related emergency programs.
"As well, the taxpayer-supported debt-to-GDP ratio is now 18.3 per cent, which is one-tenth of a percentage point lower than the June budget update."
De Jong is also seeking taxpayer input to guide the government's spending priorities, with a public consultation process. Details are available on the Finance Ministry website.