B.C. Liberals promise four balanced budgets, tougher balanced-budget law

VICTORIA - Premier Christy Clark's government is promising to deliver four consecutive balanced budgets during its current mandate that will also see the Liberals move to toughen the province's balanced-budget law.

Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon delivered a throne speech Wednesday marking the newly re-elected Liberal government's return to the legislature and noted Clark intends to keep her election promises to freeze personal income taxes for most British Columbians.

"This will be the first of four consecutive balanced budgets in its mandate," said Guichon. The budget will be introduced Thursday.

"And to ensure that future budgets are balanced, your government will toughen the balanced budget law," she said. "A strong economy also means low taxes for families and job creators. Your government will freeze personal tax rates and carbon tax rates for five years."

Guichon said the government plans to accelerate its jobs plan and work on eliminating B.C.'s debt, which Clark said during the election campaign could be achieved within 15 years if the province seizes the economic potential of natural gas.

Guichon said the government is committed to bringing long-term labour stability to B.C.'s education system, but the throne speech no longer repeats the Liberal election pledge of a 10-year contract.

"Your government will work to bring together teachers, parents and school boards to achieve long-term labour stability in our classrooms," she said.

The eight-page speech is shorter than most previous throne speeches.

Prior to its delivery, Clark visited a suburban Victoria work site in Saanich where construction of a seniors residential facility was underway. Clark said her job is to ensure the province's economy continues to grow.

"The men behind me wouldn't be working and this building wouldn't be going up to serve 268 senior citizens, 40 of them with dementia, if we didn't have a growing economy because we couldn't afford it," Clark said.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says Thursday's budget is balanced and on target for the surplus forecasts made last February when the budget was first introduced but not passed due to the election.