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UPDATED: BC NDP announces fiscal platform for election

[Note to readers: Due to an error with our system, The Tyee reposted this story April 12 at 10:50 a.m., which deleted comments. We apologize for the inconvenience.]

The BC NDP fiscal plan, announced today, outlines increased taxes for high-earning corporations and individuals.

The plan commits to new revenue measures and reallocations of funds that will bring in over $311 million this year, and more than double that the following year.

Despite this, the NDP won't be able to eliminate what it has calculated as a $790-million provincial deficit for 2013-14.

"Our goal will be to balance the budget in year four," finance critic Bruce Ralston told CBC Radio this morning.

That said, Ralston promised, "Our revenue will match the expenditure proposed."

To do so, the NDP proposes to increase corporate income tax to 12 per cent from 11 per cent, but it won't increase the small business tax rate.*

The party also wants to reintroduce capital tax on financial institutions, which will affect all banks and institutions. Credit unions with less than $20 million in holdings are off the hook.

And while the NDP doesn't have plans to increase the carbon tax, it will give it a wider application: oil and gas industries' vented emissions will be taxed, increasing the province's total captured emissions by five per cent.

The plan's wording was careful to avoid big money upset by emphasizing that even with these increases, B.C. would have the fifth-lowest corporate tax rate and lowest capital tax rate for financial institutions in Canada.

Corporations won't be the only ones fuelling the government's revenue: Individuals with over $150,000 in net income yearly -- that's the top two per cent of the province's earners -- will now be taxed 19 per cent on the dollars that exceed that sum.*

The NDP also unveiled changes to some of the BC Liberals' programs through a "reallocation" of funds. The NDP will replace BC Training and Education Savings Grant and Early Years Strategy with a new childcare and early education plan. It intends to do the same with the Early Childhood Tax Benefit, which will be reshaped as a new poverty reduction strategy. The NDP will announce more program changes in the near future.*

Today's announcement came on the heels of the latest Angus Reid Public Opinion survey showing that half of respondents believe the NDP's financial estimates of a near $800-million deficit this year. Meanwhile, less than one-quarter of those polled have confidence in the Liberal's prediction of a $197-million surplus in the same timeframe, according to a Globe and Mail report.

"The whole notion of sticking to a budget is a pretty foreign concept to a member of the NDP," said B.C. Minister of Finance and Liberal candidate Mike de Jong this afternoon at a press conference.

He slammed the NDP's fiscal plan, criticizing that it doesn't include a bottom line and emphasizes spending. He referred to it as an "Alberta jobs plan" in that the personal income and corporate tax increases will send people and investments next door.

"The corporate capital tax proved itself to be a destructive force in British Columbia," said de Jong, adding that with the NDP's proposed changes, B.C. would be the only province that taxes credit unions.

Under this plan, de Jong said the province's credit rating will be downgraded.

The BC Liberal Party will release its financial platform in the next few days.

John Cummins, BC Conservative Party leader, also responded to the NDP's fiscal plan in a press release. Although he agreed with many of de Jong's criticisms, he denounced both his main opponents as parties "committed to high taxes and deficit spending in British Columbia."

*Corrections made April 12 at 10:45 a.m.

Natascia Lypny is completing a practicum at The Tyee. Follow her on Twitter @wordpuddle.

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