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VICTORIA The Liberals brought down a Chicken Little mini-budget today, showing that they are proceeding to make the fiscal sky fall on British Columbians as fast as they can.

The statement is nothing more than preparing the ground for a full-scale attack on public services, said CUPE BC president Barry ONeill.

The Campbell Liberals are hell-bent on racing to the bottom on business taxes while our communities are left screaming for services.

Finance Minister Gary Collins mini-budget is softening the public for a fiscal slaughter when the next full budget comes down on February 19, ONeill added.

They forecast a $1.5 billion deficit this year with fully $1.4 billion of it due to their tax cuts. And they are already forecasting an even bigger deficit for next year.

The mini-budget makes it look like the fiscal landscape will appear dire enough that that they will be compelled to make more drastic service cuts.

Of course, we hope we are wrong. But if we are right, this will devastate our communities, ONeill said. Health care and education funding could be frozen. Other public services long enjoyed by BCers could be on the chopping block.

The finance minister says we are on the brink of becoming a have-not province. Under the guise of making the province more competitive, he has introduced corporate tax cuts that will drive services to rock bottom even faster.

The minister announced one cut that he says will make it easier for people to purchase vehicles.by raising the tax ceiling on cars costing $47,000. Who can afford to buy a luxury car? Lets call it the Mercedes tax!

As others have stated, slashing spending is not a useful response to the fiscal crisis outlined by Collins. Yet with this mini-budget, the Liberals seem to be setting the groundwork for service cuts in the 2002 budget.

The Liberals are following the same game plan that Alberta used, ONeill said. But the problem is — this is a different province with different resource revenues. Further, its not just low tax rates that attract people to BC, its quality of life and that includes strong public services.

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Contact:
Ron Verzuh, (604) 785-1422;
Teresa Marshall, (604) 313-6103.