B.C. judges suing taxpayers for another massive pay raise should be ruled out of order.
The Provincial Court Judges’ Association of British Columbia, on behalf of its 146 members, are technically suing the Attorney General for refusing to increase their pay and benefits. But make no mistake about it: everyday taxpayers are the true defendants in this suit.
Judges aren’t hurting financially. The standard salary in 2010 was $231,138. It has gone up in eleven of the past thirteen years and jumped 43.3 per cent in the past six years.
Now they want another six per cent to get to $245,526 a year. That’s an increase of $14,388.
Judges can, and should, hold the line for at least the next three years. The B.C. government should be applauded for saying no to another pay increase and for holding firm to their “net-zero” mandate.
Net zero has been the only thing giving the government a fighting chance at balancing the provincial budget in 2013. Basically, it is a policy that says any increases in wage or benefits must be matched by a decrease in spending elsewhere in the contract.
Before net zero came into play, taxpayers were getting scored on more than Roberto Luongo in Beantown. Public sector employees—even ones claiming to be independent like these judges—have got to come back to earth and realize that B.C. seniors and families are tapped out when it comes to paying taxes.
But Big Labour doesn’t seem to care. B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair told a Victoria newspaper Oct. 4, “Zeros are done in this province—[the government] couldn’t get collective agreements by offering zeros again. The government is going to have to get real and realize wages will have to go up and they’ll have to pay for it.”
Sinclair is wrong. It’s not “the government” who pays—it’s taxpayers who pay. That fact is the great disconnect in the thinking of public sector unions. The judges want more money, the teachers want more money, the Fed wants more money, but there simply isn’t any.
British Columbia is already living beyond its means. We are borrowing money to fund our big labour contracts, precisely the problem that so many European countries are now facing.
The river of red ink rages on: a $2.78 billion deficit projected this year. Another $805 million deficit in 2012-13. Even a $458 million deficit on the books for 2013-14, when B.C. must be back in black to meet its legislated requirements.
It’s unknown if B.C. judges feel the same way about where to find extra cash to boost their pay packets as the teachers do. The B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) offered its solution in a pre-budget submission earlier this month: tax, tax, tax. In fact, the BCTF wants to hike income taxes 35 per cent. That’s a $764 tax increase for someone earning $50,000 a year—all for more pay and benefits for teachers.
Public sector unions want to cut your pay to increase their own. They aren’t shy about it. Taxpayers shouldn’t be shy either in saying, “No.”
Hopefully B.C. judges show some good judgment and temper their demands. Citizens often speak of good judges as being wise and fair—two qualities tapped-out taxpayers hope to see prevail in this case.
By Jordan Batemen
Canadian Taxpayers Federation