Responsible government management means looking at both sides of the fiscal equation
(Edmonton) – The Redford government would like Albertans to believe the “Bitumen Bubble” is new and unprecedented. However, this is not true. The province is facing an enormous deficit – a financial predicament that could have and should have been foreseen. For several years experts have been warning this would happen. It could have been avoided with responsible fiscal planning.
“Nothing has changed. This current government’s idea of managing our province is the same as it has been for the last 20 years – to cross its fingers and hope there will be enough resource revenue to get it through the budget cycle,” said Alberta Party president Will Munsey. “When that doesn’t happen, the government either cuts public services or runs deficits – hoping to ride it out until oil prices swing upward again. And around and around we go.
“This has to stop,” Munsey added. “We need responsible management in the legislature. That means making hard decisions that put the public interest first, ahead of political considerations.”
In true Alberta Party fashion, the party has been studying Alberta’s fiscal problems from all fiscally responsible angles to find the best solutions and the common ground that Albertans can live with.
The Alberta Party believes the first step must be for the government to openly and honestly examine all programs and how it conducts its day-to-day operations to ensure proper business practices are followed, better accountability mechanisms are in place and that Albertans are getting true value for their money. However, Albertans have made it clear; they do not want cuts to public services. Spending must not only be smarter, it must be kept at the front lines as much as possible.
But this alone isn’t going to be enough to balance the province’s books. Experts from across the political spectrum are telling Albertans we must look at the revenue side of the equation – in other words, that the government must bring in more money from different sources and reduce its addiction to oil and gas. The Alberta Party agrees.
Thirdly, Albertans have told the government they want it to start saving for future generations. Our government has been spending Albertans’ birthright – the province’s resource wealth – and hasn’t put a dime from royalties into the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund since 1987. In fact, we’ve used the earnings from the Heritage Trust Fund to shore up our general revenues. Saving revenue from non-renewable resources in the Heritage Fund, and reinvesting the profits from those investments, must be paramount in the government’s fiscal planning from this point forward.
To get the province back on track, the Alberta Party proposes a measured, balanced fiscal policy that blends cost-cutting and the generation of new revenues. Here are some highlights:
- Implement a systematic management audit of all departments to ensure all management positions provide good value for money for Alberta taxpayers.
- Roll back salary increases awarded to MLAs, deputy ministers, senior managers.
- Closely assess service delivery – with the input of front-line staff – to ensure needed services are being delivered in the best possible way.
- Appoint a Legislature Budget Officer who reports to the legislature (not the government) to ensure Albertans understand the full cost of proposed budget expenditures. This will increase the accuracy of budget forecasts and improve accountability – reducing the ability of the government to play politics with budget forecasts.
- Implement a zero per cent tax rate for the first three years for new small businesses.
- Return to a progressive income tax system.
- Reducing reliance on resource revenue and saving royalties in the Heritage Trust Fund can only be accomplished if the government starts seriously discussing other revenue options with Albertans, including a consumption tax and a corporate tax increase.
The Alberta Party knows Albertans are reasonable, sensible people. They understand the facts and are prepared to find the right balance between individual prosperity and social responsibility.
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For more information, contact the Alberta Party:
President – Alberta Party
(Will is available for comment Thursday, March 7. He will be at the legislature for the release of the budget.)
(Greg is available for comment Wednesday, March 6, and Thursday, March 7)