by Jordan Bateman
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) this week released its B.C. Naughty and Nice List, highlighting politicians and agencies who either cost – or saved – taxpayers money this year.
The Taxpayers’ Naughty List:
1. TransLink executives. Despite a public declaration by TransLink chair Marcella Szel that executive pay had been frozen at 2012 levels and bonuses had been eliminated, every single TransLink executive was paid more in 2013 than the year before. Now, they’re asking for $250 million in new taxes.
2. Premier Christy Clark’s Medical Services Premium tax hikes. Is there a more unfair tax in BC than MSP? MSP family taxes have jumped from $108 per month in 2010 to $144 starting Jan. 1. That’s a one-third increase in just five years.
3. MLAs Jenny Kwan and Linda Reid. It might be a meager Christmas for these two MLAs after they had to pay back money for a pair of spending scandals. Kwan paid back $34,992.27 for a European vacation with her former husband (revealed in a shocking audit of the Portland Hotel Society). Speaker Reid paid back $5,528 for her husband’s trip to South Africa.
The full naughty list might be so heavy it could crash Santa’s sleigh. Unfortunately, 2014 was a year full of politicians and agencies wasting our money, then demanding more of it in taxes. Why can’t they ho-ho-hold the line on our costs?
The Taxpayers’ Nice List:
1. Whistler’s Property Tax Freeze. Property taxes in Whistler have been frozen for three straight years, as municipal hall updates its reserve practices and cuts spending. As if many of us didn’t want to live in Whistler already!
2. The federal government’s First Nations Financial Transparency Act. The new law which put First Nations’ finances and politician pay online prompted several big stories, including two in B.C. The discovery of Kwikwetlem Chief Ron Giesbrecht’s $800,000 “special deal,” prompted his fellow council member Marvin Joe to tell media that even he wouldn’t have known about the chief’s pay “if it wasn’t for this new transparency act.” And the electoral defeat of a husband-and-ex-wife (chief and councillor) duo from the Shuswap First Nation happened when band members learned the tiny reserve’s politicians had been making over $200,000 tax-free – more than Prime Minister Harper.
3. Premier Christy Clark tackles municipal labour costs. Through the core review, the Province commissioned an independent report showing municipal employees received 38 per cent hikes in pay from 2001 to 2012, twice the 19 per cent increase paid to B.C.’s core provincial employees, and 15 points more than inflation. Hopefully, this is part of a longer-term plan for the province to push cities on saving money through better labour deals – and, to her credit, the Premier did not shy away from bringing up the stats at the Union of BC Muncipalities.
Hopefully these ideas grow in 2015. Perhaps instead of sugarplums dancing in our politicians’ heads this Christmas Eve, these good, money-saving ideas could have a tango.
Jordan Bateman is B.C. Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a federally incorporated, not-for-profit citizen’s group dedicated to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government.