Editorial: Fantasy budgets

It’s no surprise that Premier Clark told the grassroots leaders of the province how wonderful things are going to be in coming years

There’s an old cartoon that always began with a tag line of “in the fantastic years to come.”

Reading the text of Premier Christy Clark’s speech this week to the Union of BC Municipalities, it seems she might like to use that line herself.

With the next provincial election only seven months away, it’s no surprise that Clark used this opportunity to tell the grassroots leaders of the province how wonderful things are going to be in coming years, making long-term commitments to projects like creating four lanes on the Trans-Canada or, closer to home, investing in schools and infrastructure. Then there is the wonderful boost to the economies of all our communities and the province that LNG exporting is going to bring.

All these promises and investment add up to more jobs, more money flowing into communities and, well, some fantastic years to come.

Though Clark didn’t actually say it, these speeches always come with the implication of ‘if we get re-elected’ or ‘we’ve been so good to you, don’t you want us back again?’

Clark made the point that the funding for all these investments in communities isn’t new money but “money we saved by pinching pennies.” If that is the case, wouldn’t it have been better to re-invest that money in the province as it came in, rather than saving it all up to shovel out in a pre-election blast?

Clark’s Liberal government isn’t any different from those past or future. Budgets follow a familiar pattern; every new party elected decries the previous budgeting — we didn’t know it was this bad — then, when election time comes around, somehow finds lots of money to spend.

It’s time governments, both federal and provincial, stopped indulging in fantasy budgeting based on things like projected income growth from LNG exports and re-invested in the province when it was needed, rather than saving it up for election time.

(The cartoon was the Canadian 1960s classic, Rocket Robin Hood — I wonder if Premier Clark was a fan?)

 

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