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BC ministers will suffer smaller pay cut than Premier Campbell claimed: Schreck

Premier Gordon Campbell was very clear with reporters yesterday that running a deficit would mean a 10 percent pay cut for cabinet ministers, but a former NDP strategist says Campbell is exaggerating.

Campbell went into some detail about how B.C.'s Balanced Budget and Ministerial Accountability Act works. Each year twenty percent of cabinet ministers' salaries are held back, he said. They get 10 percent released for meeting their ministry's budget, he said, and the other 10 percent for a balanced government-wide budget.

Yesterday Campbell announced the province will run deficit budgets. He said, “Cabinet ministers will take a 10 percent reduction in their salaries if there's not a balanced budget.”

But in a column today, economist and former NDP strategist David Schreck pointed out the 20 percent hold back only applies to the part of their salaries that cabinet ministers get for their cabinet work.

All MLAs get base pay of just over $100,000. Ministers get an extra 50 percent, while the Premier gets an extra 90 percent. It is only those bonuses, for being Premier or a cabinet minister, that are affected by the hold back, Schreck wrote.

By Schreck's calculation, a deficit means the cabinet ministers will only lose 3.3 percent of their overall salaries, adding that's “peanuts compared to the 29 percent pay raise MLAs gave themselves in 2007.”

A call to Campbell's press secretary was not returned by posting time.

“Claims about cabinet ministers facing a pay cut are . . . all about the election,” Schreck wrote. “It adds insult to injury for the Campbell government to pretend that its members are making a personal sacrifice.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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