Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Liberals Promise Four Balanced Budgets, Tougher Balanced-Budget Law

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Liberals Promise Four Balanced Budgets, Tougher Balanced-Budget Law

Article excerpt

Liberals promise four balanced budgets

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VICTORIA - Premier Christy Clark's 17-minute throne speech -- likely one of the shortest on record in British Columbia -- leaned heavily on her long-standing election pledges to balance budgets, freeze taxes, create jobs and slay the debt.

Clark's Liberals returned to the legislature Wednesday, more than a month after winning their fourth consecutive mandate, and the party has promised to debate and pass a balanced budget that was introduced last February but not adopted because of the election campaign.

Clark, who was not re-elected in her Vancouver-Point Grey riding, took a guest seat inside the legislature to hear the throne speech. She is currently campaigning in the July 10 byelection in the Liberal-friendly Westside-Kelowna riding in an effort to officially return to the legislature.

The throne speech, read by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, included Liberal promises to deliver four-consecutive balanced budgets during their current mandate and move to toughen the province's balanced-budget law.

"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."

Clark also promised to develop a 10-year skills-training plan that starts in high schools by matching student skills to jobs.

Labour shortages are threatening to slow down what could become booming jobs and development possibilities in B.C.'s resource sectors, including mining and natural gas.

"Preparing the workforce with skills that match current and future job opportunities where people live and in the communities they love, is essential to ensuring that British Columbians are first in line for jobs," said Guichon.

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. …

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