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B.C. begins budget pitch ahead of vote

VICTORIA - B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong begins a sales job today, pitching voters on a budget that contains few goodies to sway undecideds and some mine fields sure to irk its staunchest supporters.

The B.C. government's pre-election budget will raise income taxes on the wealthy and on corporations and will hike medical service plan premiums for everyone.

Doctors have been put on notice to expect their fees for some services to be cut and eliminated for others.

Still, de Jong and the Liberals are banking the tough measures needed to deliver their promise of balancing the books before the May vote will re-establish the party's budgeting credentials and prompt voters to choose them for a fourth term.

De Jong says tough decisions shouldn't be put off for tomorrow, because, for politicians, tomorrow often doesn't come.

The minister's tax hikes are borrowed heavily from New Democrat plans and Opposition finance critic Bruce Ralston says he's pleased the government has headed in the NDP direction.

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