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Where the money goes

At times I sense a growing frustration with taxpayers.

It seems that taxes are always going up and at the same time we often hear about budget cuts and other government cutbacks that ask the obvious question; “where is all of your money going?”

In last week’s report I touched briefly on Government revenues and the overall growth in spending. For those of you who missed last week’s report, I highlighted that in a little over the past ten years; British Columbia Government spending has gone from roughly $20 billion annually to our current budget of roughly $40 billion a year.

That ultimately means spending has virtually doubled over the past decade.

In last week’s report I also detailed where that $40 billion comes from in terms of revenue sources, and as promised, this week I would like to touch on the spending side.

Where does all of that money — your money — end up getting spent?

The vast majority is spent on health care, close to $15 billion is in this year’s health budget and keep in mind the amount of MSP premiums you pay monthly adds up to roughly $1.6 billion, leaving more than $13 billion to be funded from other sources like the HST and personal income taxes.

In comparison back in 1999 the BC Health budget was roughly $7.7 billion.

Education is the next largest expenditure by government with an annual budget approaching $5.2 billion.

This is roughly a $1 billion increase over the 1999 budget levels, so as you can see while education funding has increased, it has not increased to the same degree as has the health care budget.

The ministry with the third largest budget in B.C. is currently Housing and Social Development with a budget of close to $2.7 billion a year, not quite double the $1.5 billion in spending included in the 1999 budget.

Advanced Education is accounts for $2.1 billion in current spending while the Ministry of Children and Families receives $1.3 billion.

As you can see, spending on health and education (both Kindergarten to Grade 12 and advanced,) along with children and families combined with social services adds up to close to $27 billion, or close to 70 per cent of the entire B.C. budget.

The remaining 30 per cent, (representing some $13 billion in spending) must collectively fund ministries such as environment, transportation, attorney general, solicitor general, forests, agriculture, aboriginal relations and tourism to name just a few.

If you are a regular reader of the newspaper you will know that there are cost pressures and requests for increased services and funding in all of these areas.

Next week, the 2011 B.C. budget will be announced as the legislature resumes sitting in Victoria.

There will be many interest groups that will be looking for increased budgetary funding in specific areas much as there will be many citizens who will be adamant that they are taxed to the extent that they cannot afford to pay any more in either new or increased taxes.

At some point in the near future these two opposing interests will need to reconcile.

Bill Barisoff is the MLA for Penticton.