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Undecided voters weigh in on money management

B.C. New Democrats election platform co-chairs Bruce Ralston and Carole James outline the fiscal plan that will form the basis of the 2013 BC NDP election platform during a media briefing in Vancouver April 11, 2013.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

With most parties talking about budgets and fiscal plans, and a column on the topic by guest columnist Mario Canseco, this week was a good time to ask our panel of undecided voters about finances. Here's the question we asked: In terms of voting decisions, how do you know who or what to believe when it comes to budgeting? Edited excerpts of the discussion follow:

Neither of the two main contenders are believable and the others don't even bother pretending, it seems. If push comes to shove, I have slightly more faith in a Liberal budget than an NDP one, but trust is hard to summon up for anybody who has a primary goal of getting elected and will use any manipulation of numbers to achieve that goal. – Scott Guthrie, Victoria

I don't know who and what to believe. Economic forecast is a tricky business, but when it comes to numbers I like to see the government laying it out without sugar coating. Advertisement by the government just makes the public even more skeptical. – Stephen Fung, Vancouver

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The NDP's reputation for being poor money managers is perhaps the biggest reason I am reluctant to vote for them. Is it only a reputation? Good question. But many who were around when the NDP were last in power in the 1990s tell me that the party was quick to spend money it didn't have. …Whether or not the NDP would actually mishandle B.C.'s finances, I think the fact that the perception exists is important. – Sasha Gronsdahl, Victoria

Politics is the only professional occupation where you get to control millions of dollars, and affect many lives, with no training. Would you let a first-year resident perform open heart surgery? No! But we do not demand any qualifications for finance ministers to handle our taxes. – Chris Dawson, Nelson

I am happy that the Liberals had the books checked over independently this year, but the fact that the scope of the report was only expenditures, and not revenue, is fishy at best. – Don Rinald, Nanaimo

So far I cannot believe any of the parties. Perhaps a contest province-wide to find 12 of the best financially run households with accurate budgets, then have them produce a budget for the province. – Larry Law, Powell River

I disagree that government budgets should be run like individual households. It's a false analogy – governments and households are very different. I am thus skeptical of "balanced budgets" at the government level, because governments do not need balanced budgets from year to year. Governments need to spend when the economy needs help (and maybe go into debt) and when the economy is doing well, they can reap the rewards and (hopefully) save up for the next crisis. – Lisa Fisher, Vancouver

I guess I plan to vote more on the overarching ideals behind the budgeting, rather than the budgeting itself. – Jill Bryant, Victoria

What people say they will spend on and what they end up spending that money on – very different. Also, the reasons the government gives for cuts in spending and why they are actually taking these actions I think are very different. – Alyssa Koehn, Vancouver

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My problem is how government does economic forecasting. … I tend not to believe B.C. Finance Department revenue forecasting because of their technical deficiency. We definitely need an officer or a group that will scrutinize the budget and economic models of each political party. – Kevin Fung, Vancouver

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