Alberta Budget 2013 one-sided and lacking in courage
March 08, 2013
(Edmonton) – Budget 2013, billed by the Redford government as a watershed moment in Alberta’s history, was anything but. It was a lost opportunity to immediately begin addressing the fundamental problem with Alberta’s finances – the government’s over-reliance on resource revenues for its daily operations.
“We are seeing a continuation of the government’s usual approach to financing public services – they are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping to ride out the lean times until more resource money comes their way. That’s not responsible management,” said Alberta Party president Will Munsey.
The Alberta Party supports the government borrowing responsibly for critical infrastructure such new schools for a growing population and badly needed repairs to aging schools. “Most people have to take out a mortgage to buy a home,” Munsey notes. “It’s a reasonable debt to take on.”
But by running an operational deficit, the government is putting Alberta much farther into debt and incurring higher debt-servicing expenses than it should – leaving Albertans to foot the bill.
The government may say it’s holding the line on spending but in fact, this is a cutting budget. Although Albertans have said they want their services, people are going to feel the pain firsthand – health, education, municipalities and seniors will all be negatively affected. Advanced education experienced an outright cut that is significant.
Both sides of the equation should have been addressed – spending and revenues. This would allow the government to balance the operating budget immediately and start saving a large portion of Albertans’ resources royalties. “Political considerations have to be set aside. It’s disappointing the government lacked the courage to do what needs to be done – return to a progressive income tax system sooner rather than later, and launch a major review of the entire tax structure,” Munsey said.
“On the positive side, we do give a tip of the hat to the government for pledging to begin saving royalties again. They’re not saving as much as we would like but it’s a step in the right direction,” Munsey said.
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David Benson, Media Relations