Sunday, October 31, 2010

The worst kind of 'trick or treat'!

Last Wednesday, Premier Campbell spent a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayers' money on a prime-time television infomercial.

In the Halloween spirit, I was hoping the treat would be a few answers to all the questions we've been asking for years about the BC Rail scandal. Or perhaps he would treat us to an apology for how be brought in the HST, and a pledge to do things differently. There was none of that.

Instead, we got a trick: a promise of an income tax cut. To me, it sounded like a cynical attempt to buy some popularity.

Based on this government's record, we can be sure such a tax cut will be paid for with more cuts to necessary services and more hidden fees. And this promised tax cut won't cover the reality of the tax hike we're already paying with the HST. For example, the possible savings from this tax cut for the average double-income family will be several hundred dollars less than the $1,128 extra per year that Statistics Canada says that same family is paying under the HST.

There were a lot of claims in that infomercial that don't add up to scrutiny. Here are a few more examples. 

-Claim: Charts accompanying the premier’s infomercial show how British Columbians are faring better when it comes to paying taxes.
-Fact: Economist have said the charts in the presentation are “misleading as presented,” and “deceptive, maybe intentionally deceptive.” The charts also fail to include taxes such as the HST.

-Claim: On Sept. 24, 2011, everyone in B.C. will get to be the finance minister for a day.
-Fact: In the referendum, voters will have an opportunity to vote down the HST, but will not be able to reverse any other decisions made by the Minister of Finance and the B.C. government. British Columbians will not have the power to properly fund local agricultural development, education and health services, the arts or green, sustainable transportation.

-Claim: People who make up to $72,000 will get a tax break.
-Fact: People who make less than $72,000 will see less of a benefit than those who earn more, with over half of the tax break going to the richest 20 per cent of people.

-Claim: A new plan will ensure every child that leaves grade four will be reading, writing, and doing math at the fourth grade level.
-Fact: The funding for this commitment only adds up to $11 per student in grades one through four, which doesn’t even make up for the 2009 B.C. government's cut to literacy programs. Additionally, the B.C. government is leaving schools short on funding after hitting them with hikes to MSP premiums, hydro rates and more operational expenses.

I know the BC government can do much better than this and I look forward to an opportunity to make that happen.

Best, Lana.