B.C. Liberals must deal with $62-billion debt

Surplus percentage should be used to pay off climbing debt

You may not realize it, but you’re drowning in debt.

In fact, we all are. It doesn’t matter how prudent we have been with our money, how brilliant our investments, how lucrative our career, how stingy our spending.

Our politicians have put us in debt – British Columbia is more than $13,300 in the red for each and every man, woman and child in this province.

A check of BCDebtClock.ca shows the provincial debt ticking toward $62 billion. In fact, in the five minutes you’ll spend reading this column, the debt will grow by $47,700.

This year, taxpayers will spend $2.7 billion just to service debt – roughly half the province’s education budget.

For all the 2013 provincial election talk of a “debt-free B.C.”, we are a long way from seeing that happen.

The old chestnut that “a goal without a plan is just wishful thinking,” is never more true than when one looks at government debt. That’s why the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s top recommendation to the government’s budget committee this year is a Debt Reduction Act, based on the legislation that helped Ralph Klein pay off Alberta’s debt.

Klein’s debt reduction legislation came in two steps: first, a legislated mandatory payment toward debt every year; later, a second law mandated that 75 per cent of all budget surpluses go directly to debt repayment.

While Alberta’s energy boom is credited with generating the revenue needed to pay down the debt, it still took significant fiscal discipline by Klein to ensure that surpluses went to debt, not new spending programs. Within 12 years, Alberta was debt-free.

A B.C. Debt Reduction Act could make it provincial law that 75 per cent of budget surpluses go to paying down the debt, helping ward off all the special interest groups looking for more money from taxpayers.

As annual budget surpluses grow, a Debt Reduction Act sends a clear message: paying down B.C.’s debt comes first.

As that debt is reduced, the amount of servicing and interest paid by taxpayers also falls. This creates a snowball effect: as debt servicing costs decrease, surpluses grow larger.

The act should include legislated percentages for debt repayment and tax relief, leaving no wriggle room for future finance ministers of any political stripe to work around its provisions.

If a future government wants to escape this commitment to debt reduction, it should be forced to go back to the Legislature, stand up in front of the Opposition, media, watchdogs and taxpayers, and explain why it wants to repeal the act.

With B.C. back in the black, now is the time for a Debt Reduction Act. Nothing good happens to debt without a plan.

As a society, we need to show fiscal discipline and follow this roadmap to a debt-free British Columbia.

Jordan Bateman is the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

 

Just Posted

Bill passes to make Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

100 Mile House Wranglers eliminated from KIJHL playoffs

Second year in a row the team has been eliminated by the Revelstoke Grizzlies

A section of North Bonaparte Road has flooded in Pressy Lake area

The flooding is approximately 17-30 kilometres east of 70 Mile House.

Prescribed burns to take place around Lytton, Spences Bridge

BC Wildfire Service will only conduct burns if conditions permit

IT’S OFFICIAL: Mt. Timothy sale complete

New owners looking toward year-round mountain resort facility

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

Canucks hang on for 7-4 win over Senators

Horvat nets 2 for Vancouver

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Teacher reprimanded for conduct towards special needs student

Alan Stephen Berry told vice principal he did not have time to use positive strategies

‘Full worm super moon’ to illuminate B.C. skies on first day of spring

Spring has sprung, a moon named in honour of thawing soil marks final super moon until 2020

Having phone within sight while driving does not violate law: B.C. judge

The mere presence of a cell phone within sight of a driver is not enough for a conviction, judge says

Most Read