Resource revenue roller coaster on the upswing, but stability still a long way off
Posted on February 26, 2014 by Katherine Taylor
The third quarter fiscal update shows the drastic cutbacks to post-secondary education, per-student funding, programs for people with developmental disabilities and other areas were unnecessary, says Alberta Party leader Greg Clark.
“The province continues to rely on unstable non-renewable resource revenues to fund core programs,” said Clark. “The result is wild swings in program funding tied to the boom and bust cycle we see from all resource-based economies.
“You’d think we would know better by now.”
Clark is also worried that despite growing revenues the province is still adding to our debt load.
“Even in the good times we’re adding billions in debt as a result of PC mismanagement,” said Clark. “Our only option is to borrow huge amounts of money to build the schools, long-term care facilities, roads and post-secondary spaces needed to keep Alberta ahead.”
Clark said there is no excuse for inconsistent program funding, which isn’t keeping up with the demands of a rapidly growing population.
“All indications are the next budget will continue to under-fund core programs, especially education and long-term care,” said Clark. “Alberta spends less now per student than we did four years ago. How is it possible in a province with resources like Alberta that we have 40 students in high school classes, cancel entire post-secondary programs, are 1,500 beds short in long-term care and have kindergarten kids riding an hour each way on the bus?”
Clark said the answer lies in a clear long-term plan.
“A long term plan and vision that goes beyond the next election is needed to ensure Albertans get the services they need while also balancing the books,” said Clark. “Non-renewable resource revenues should be saved and more stable revenue sources used to fund core programs.”
“We’re playing catch-up as a result of years of under-investment and mismanagement by this PC government,” said Clark. “We need to adjust our tax base and reinstate progressive income tax, gradually reduce small business taxes to spur innovation, and commit to stable, long-term funding for core services.”
The Alberta Party will release a more detailed series of recommendations for Budget 2014 tomorrow.