Pauline Marois is promising to reduce personal income taxes and company payroll taxes after the province reaches a balanced budget in two years.
The Parti Québécois Leader made the commitment as her party struggles to regain momentum in the final days of the election campaign after falling behind the Liberals, according to recent public opinion polls.
“We want to reduce taxes paid by companies. We know that the biggest concern for businesses is the payroll tax because it serves as a disincentive to increasing the number of jobs. So yes we want to do this…after we reach a balanced budget…And I would say the same goes for income taxes. But we need to find new resources in order to do it,” Ms. Marois announced during an exchange at a business luncheon with the Michel Leblanc, president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
The PQ is making a play for middle-class families, who are among the voters all parties will be targeting in the final days of the campaign. Ms. Marois promised to give them a break, saying a balance must be struck in reducing taxes for middle-class families as well as businesses.
It was the first time in the campaign that Ms. Marois referred to cutting taxes. There was no mention of tax cuts in the PQ budget tabled in February, two weeks before the election was called. Finance Minister Marceau said that surpluses generated after reaching the zero-deficit target would go to reducing the province’s debt.
Ms. Marois said it was premature to project by how much taxes would be reduced. The PQ leader said it would depend on the success of her industrial policy aimed at attracting new investments and jobs. The more wealth the province can generate, the better the chances of cutting taxes, she said.
She then explained that while cutting taxes would be a priority, it wouldn’t be the only one set be government once the deficit has been eliminated.
“We also have to make sure that we continue to serve Quebeckers well and therefore once we reach a balanced budget, once we have surpluses, half of it could be used to cut taxes and the other half to maintain and improve services,” Ms. Marois told reporters after her business luncheon.
Ms. Marois called the Liberals and the Coalition Avenir Quebec promises to cut taxes as being completely “unrealistic.” As she weighed for the first time the prospect of a Liberal government being elected she warned Quebeckers that it would result in more overspending and a much higher debt for the province.
A PQ government, she insisted, would keep spending under control and use the additional funds from mining royalties and taxes on alcohol and tobacco will go to reducing the province’s debt.
According to Quebec government figures, the province’s gross debt was $191.7-billion as of March 31 2013.The net debt which subtracts the value of financial assets was at $175.4-billion for the same period.
When asked by reporters why she was announced these tax cuts now, Ms. Marois responded: "No one asked me the question before."