Premier Campbell’s prime time rerun won’t be renewed
By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist
Premier Gordon Campbell spent 15 minutes encouraging viewers to turn the channel on his hyped half-hour television address Wednesday before delivering the only news of the night.
Campbell lectured viewers about why they are apparently too dumb to understand that the hated Harmonized Sales Tax is a good idea, complete with charts and graphs for the 80% who still don’t get it.
But then came the only hard news – a 15% income tax cut – which he should have led off with to hold the audience.
Campbell also vaguely promised to increase spending on early childhood learning after admitting that one in three kids are not ready for Grade One when they get to school.
Welcome changes but why no details on a positive plan most would approve of?
Campbell’s recycling old statistics – like how much he has cut income taxes since 2001 – left the impression the premier was merely defending his record, not cutting a new one.
Campbell also hinted at rumored radical changes to school boards but didn’t explain.
With the premier’s personal approval rating at just 9%, this television address was mostly a disappointing rerun not fit for prime time – and likely to be cancelled next season.
[This column ran in today's 24 hours newspaper]UPDATE - Will HST referendum question make voters choose between eliminating new income tax cut or HST?
The real question now is the HST question - will the government with Elections BC approval make the upcoming HST referendum questions read as follows:
"Do you want the BC government to cancel the HST, which would require it to also cancel your 15% income tax cut? Yes or no?"
The value of the 15% income tax reduction effective January 1, 2011 is estimated at saving those making over $72,000 about $616 and $354 for those making $50,000 a year - about the average in BC.
But the HST has been estimated to cost the average BC family $521 according to a Statistics Canada model developed for the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper.
The Times-Colonist stated that: "A household with an annual income of $40,000 to $50,000 will pay $253 more because of the HST, while households in the $80,000 to $90,000 range will pay $1,128 more annually."
Even after the income tax cut, that would leave many British Columbians paying more taxes thanks to the HST.
But it also likely means the Campbell or Campbell-less BC Liberals would have to cut public services to pay for the income tax cut, which will cost the government $568 million in lost revenue the first year and rise to $638 million by 2013-14.
It's also important to know - as economist David Schreck aptly points out - that the tax cut goes proportionately more to wealthy British Columbians because it applies to the first $72,000 of income, not just to those making UP to $72,000.
Schreck estimates therefore that 50% of the tax cut benefits will go to just 20% of British Columbians and guess who they are? The richest 20% of course!
Of the $568 million cut in taxes in the first year those making over $72,000 annually will get $284 million per year.
And while Finance Minister Colin Hansen has claimed BC will have an estimated $2.1 billion in higher corporate tax revenue over the next three years, that's far from money in the bank.
The income tax cut likely means public services will be slashed to ensure BC's existing deficit does not grow further.
Meanwhile, 799 people have viewed the premier's TV show on YouTube at this point and pundits have been most unkind in reviewing the performance - not a great investment so far for the $240,000 plus cost to taxpayers to produce and air the 22 minutes snoozer.