B.C. deficit grows to $1.5 billion

B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong Wednesday reiterated a promise Premier Christy Clark made Tuesday to balance the 2013-14 budget, despite the fact this fiscal ...

B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong Wednesday reiterated a promise Premier Christy Clark made Tuesday to balance the 2013-14 budget, despite the fact this fiscal year's deficit has ballooned to $1.5 billion.

The deficit for 2012-13 grew by $328 million in a three-month period, de Jong said at the release of the government's second quarterly report.

While revenue from personal and corporate income taxes were up, this was offset by decreased revenues from property taxes and falling coal and natural gas prices. A delay in the sale of its Little Mountain social housing development is also cited as increasing the deficit.

Overall revenue decreased by $200 million between the first and second quarters.

"We've had to make some tough choices in order to protect the B.C. economy, create jobs and make life more affordable for families," de Jong said.

"We have successfully controlled spending, currently below the average rate of growth for the last 10 years, and we did it while protecting investments in priority programs like health care and education."

But based on future GDP growth projections, de Jong said he believes it is possible to balance the budget in 2013-14. The government also continues a belt-tightening exercise that includes a salary and hiring freeze and reduced travel and discretionary spending.

"Given what we know today, we intend to balance the budget in 2013-14," de Jong said.

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv

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