Grant funding budget increasing

The annual gaming grant budget will rise to $135 million annually.

Some good news for those groups and organizations involved with gaming grant funding, the annual gaming grant budget will be increased to $135 million annually.

This is an increase of $15 million over the current budget and will allow adult arts and sports organizations including environmental groups and animal welfare agencies to be eligible to again receive gaming grant funding as was the care previously.

In addition, the gaming grant review will also be released in the very near future and with this process complete I will investigate the possibility of hosting a community gaming forum this spring.

This forum will be important as government continues to work on streamlining the application process for grants applications.

Please watch my future weekly MLA reports for further information.

Another recent announcement is an agreement between the British Columbia and Federal Government to repay the $1.6 billion HST transitional assistance that will see this amount repaid over five years with interest being waived.

This might sound like a small consideration however the interest savings alone will account for savings of roughly $100 million over the next five years.

That amount of money saved in interest can, as an example, fully fund the annual increase to gaming funds over the same time frame.

Credit to the volunteer driven non profit communities around British Columbia that work hard to provide many much needed services in our communities with the funding provided through gaming funds.

While on the topic of finance, Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon has introduced a new interactive website around B.C.’s budget process.

While critics have pointed out that websites do not resolve fiscal challenges, in this case the my B.C. budget website does provide a very detailed breakdown of both revenue and spending to provide information to B.C. taxpayers on where and how $43.6 billion in spending is currently allocated.

In addition taxation levels by source are also detailed for a better understanding on what overall impact increasing taxes has in specific areas.

For more information please visit the  gov.bc.ca/mybcbudget  website.

Finally this week a reminder.  If you are looking for provincial government information do not forget to visit the openinfo.gov.bc.ca. website where you can also view other recent information requests and related information online.

Currently close to 2,700 sets of data are now online including recent information such as B.C. health practitioner and MSP expenditures, post-secondary graduate and unemployment rates and also B.C. schools satisfaction survey results.

If you do not have online access and would like to obtain this information please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Bill Barisoff is the MLA for Penticton.