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Nix biz tax cuts, spend carbon tax on transit: James

NDP leader Carole James called on the provincial government today to cancel the corporate tax cuts scheduled to come in over the next two years to offset Premier Gordon Campbell's carbon tax -- which she previously campaigned against as a "gas tax."

“…today I am calling on the provincial government to cancel the corporate tax cuts scheduled to come in over the next two years related to the carbon tax, and put that money into a Provincial Green Fund for transit improvements and green initiatives across the province,” said James to the delegates of the Union of BC Municipalities convention.

“By 2012 that would mean $150 million in annual contributions to a Green Fund. That would go a long way toward hitting the emissions reduction target set out in law by the government.”

The recommendation was met with strong criticism from Government House Leader Mike de Jong, who said scrapping tax reductions for rural industries would put pressure on local governments and destroy job creation throughout the province.

"Businesses currently pay 70 per cent of total carbon taxes, and industry has been clear that the associated tax cuts are critical for them to remain internationally competitive and protect jobs," de Jong said in a press release.

After criticizing the Campbell government for not meeting with Metro Vancouver mayors to deal with funding shortfalls at Translink, James also called for the government to “restore democratic accountability to Translink by returning control to elected representatives.

Transit was no the only item on James' agenda. The NDP leader also asked the provincial government to move the fixed election date to the fall of 2012, to avoid election dates colliding with the release of a new budget.

Just last week, the government’s own budget advisory panel made the same recommendation.

She also took the opportunity to call on the government to establish an Independent Budget Officer to report to the Legislature and “ensure that the public will always get the truth about BC’s finances.”

“My finance critic, Bruce Ralston, has tabled the legislation,” said James. “All the government has to do is allow it to be debated and vote for it.”

Christine McLaren reports for The Tyee.

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