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Wednesday, 27 March 2013 13:38

Alberta budget 2013: Back in debt

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On the Premier’s birthday, the PC government gave one dud of a gift to Albertans.
On March 7, Premier Alison Redford officially ended Alberta’s debt-free status and sentenced taxpayers to hundreds of millions of dollars in financing charges. This year alone, the PC government will rack up $3.5 billion in debt and vaporize $2 billion in savings to run a total $5.5 billion deficit. By the next election in 2016, the PC debt will amount to $17 billion.
This bottomless pit of debt the PCs are digging will leave Albertans paying debt financing charges. This year alone, Albertans will pay $238 million in interest on debt. This is $238 million that will be taken out of taxpayers’ pockets, and not put into health or education, but instead put into the hands of big banks.
The Premier proudly declared this would be a ‘once-in-a-generation’ budget. She’s right. It took a generation to pay off former Premier Don Getty’s debt. It will take a generation to pay off Redford’s debt.
The Premier’s mismanagement of Alberta’s finances comes at a time when the economy is booming. Oil and gas activity is booming, corporate and personal income tax revenues have never been higher. Despite the economic success that is the envy of every other province in Canada, the 41-year-old PC government has managed to squander our resources and declare a debt-sentence on every Albertan.
The Premier and the PCs refuse to believe there is a spending problem in this province. Alberta Health Services has been caught inappropriately expensing more than $100 million on things like butlers, video games, car phones and $500 a night hotel rooms.
Executive salaries and undeserved bonuses for failing to meet targets have never been higher. Budget 2013 will do nothing to address the mismanagement of health care, nor will it help reduce wasteful spending to ensure funding gets to the front lines where it is needed.
Even worse, the PCs gave their MLAs an undeserved eight per cent raise as their first order of business in the fall sitting.
A day after the 2013 Budget release, the Wildrose Official Opposition came out with our Financial Recovery Plan, which would eliminate the operating deficit immediately and the real cash deficit by 2014.
Our plan starts at the top and would immediately reduce MLA pay, end corporate welfare, freeze wages and target the bloated bureaucracy for savings.
Budget 2013 sets Alberta down a path of indebtedness, hundreds of millions in punitive financing fees, and continuing economic mismanagement and incompetence.
What Alberta needs is bold leadership with the moral fortitude to pay our bills, stay out of debt, and provide the high quality of services Albertans deserve.
Pat Stier, MLA Livingstone-Macleod Constituency, Southwest Alberta

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