Cranbrook, B.C.: Wilf Hanni, Leader of the B.C. Conservative Party, commented today on the Liberal Budget delivered by finance Minister Carol Taylor.

?It looks like an NDP budget, not a Liberal Budget,? said Hanni. ?There is 6 billion dollars for the public sector unions (enough to give every public sector employee a $20,000 pay increase), a $400 million government sponsored apprenticeship program, and $421 million to hire more bureaucrats to ensure that British Columbia?s children are safe from their parents.?

?They are obviously going after the NDP vote, but forgetting about their own base of support,? said Hanni.

?This government has done nothing to repair the damage to our Health Care system that their first budget caused. Nor have they done anything to promote the development of renewable resources. They have done nothing for agriculture. In addition, the public education system has been given virtually nothing to increase teachers? salaries or reduce class size. I think you will see teachers on the picket line again soon,? predicted Hanni.

?Worst of all,? Hanni added, ?there is no tax relief for the middle class and no attempt to pay down the provincial debt. In fact the provincial debt is forecast to grow to $34.9 Billion this year and $39.8 Billion by 2009. Carol Taylor describes more debt as a good thing! The interest that British Columbians pay on the provincial debt is the biggest single expenditure this government has. Right now, our economy is doing well, simply because we have good markets in America, China, and India. If any one of those markets goes into recession or the world?s interest rates start to climb, British Columbia will be in big trouble.?

A British Columbia Conservative Party would make paying down the debt and reducing the Provincial Sales Tax rates priority items. The reduction in interest payments that would result would give the government greater flexibility to deal with the pressures of an aging population.