Debate on Act to Amend the New Brunswick Income Tax Act

Mr. Coon, after the Speaker called for continuation of the debate on second reading of Bill 2, An Act to Amend the New Brunswick Income Tax Act: Taxes and public services are two sides of the same coin. When taxes are cut, that means that there is less money for public services. It worries me when bills are brought forward to reduce taxes without any information about how much revenue would be removed from our public services. If it is going to remove revenue, as it will, then we need some idea of how that revenue will be replaced. Surely we cannot borrow more money to pay for tax cuts. We do not want to be doing this.

This is a small tax cut—0.5% right now. It is not major, but the principle is the thing. We cannot borrow more money to pay for tax cuts. That is what happened in the past, and it is one of the reasons that our deficit became so large when the huge income tax reductions were made some years ago. We cannot do that.

When proposals come forward for reducing taxes, the members of this House need to know what the revenue reduction is and how the government proposes to replace that revenue, by increasing taxes in other areas, cutting services, or reordering priorities. However, there needs to be that kind of information so that we in this House and the people outside this House can judge whether or not this is a good bill.

How can one judge the value of this bill if one does not have the evidence that is necessary to make decisions? That is, what amount of money will this result in being removed from the annual revenue to the provincial budget? Given that, how does the government intend to replace it?

Who does not want their taxes to be lowered? Everybody wants their taxes to be lowered. Families do, businesses do—everyone wants lower taxes. Everyone wants to pay less. There is no question about that. However, we have to be able to pay for our public services. As was once said, taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized place.

When proposals are made to reduce taxes—and at this time in particular, with the significant deficit that we have to manage and the huge debt that we have to deal with . . . I would suggest that any proposals to reduce taxes are inappropriate at this time.

I am not sure why this bill has come forward now, other than, I suppose, to act on a commitment that the party made at the time. In my opinion, during the campaign, that commitment was inappropriate, given the state of the public finances.

That is my concern around this bill. It is important that we know how much this will reduce the revenue to our public services in New Brunswick and what the plans are to replace that revenue—if any—so that our public services in this province are not hampered or diminished in any way. Thank you.