Doubling Down on Debt: Budget 2014

The numbers are in and they’re not pretty.

The numbers are in and they’re not pretty.

The PCs have tabled their seventh straight deficit budget with Budget 2014. What’s worse, they’re taking on debt at levels Albertans haven’t seen since the 1990s. By 2016, Alberta taxpayers will be on the hook for $22 billion. Servicing that debt will cost $820 a year. That’s $820 million that won’t be spent on building new schools, reducing health care wait times, or policing our cities and neighbourhoods.

We all remember the dark days of the early 1990s. Crushing debt severely hampered our ability to deliver services, and it took years of painful cuts to eliminate the debt and get back on our feet. The PCs seem intent on taking us back down this path.

The fact is, the PCs have long since abandoned the goal of a balanced budget. Rather than prioritize their spending on core services by eliminating waste, they continue to let the spending taps run without regard for future generations.

The PCs also think Albertans can be tricked. They have craftily broken the budget into separate components to conceal the debt and try to sell their budgets to Albertans as balanced. Even the brightest minds have had trouble deciphering the real numbers. But they all agree on one thing: Budget 2014 means more debt, more burdensome interest payments and less funding for schools, hospitals, long-term care centres and roads in the long run. And without a sound fiscal plan for balancing the books, it also means the threat of more cuts to front line services like education and health care.

Despite revenues of $44.4 billion, the PCs plan to take on an additional $5.1 billion in debt this year. That’s $14 million per day, $585,000 every hour, and a staggering $160 each minute. In contrast, before Budget 2014 came down, Wildrose proposed 16 common sense solutions that would have put Alberta on the path to a real balanced budget, paid down debt, saved for the future and protected front line services.

For instance, Wildrose would save $450 million by ending corporate welfare and $900 million within four years by finding efficiencies in the bureaucracy. We would limit bonuses for senior public sector executives and managers to save $35 million each year and all future severance packages for government executives and politically appointed staff to save $5 million annually.

We could also save $6 million annually by eliminating the 10 underperforming associate ministers and by reducing the number of ministers to 16. We would never seek savings by gutting front line services like education, health care or supports for persons with developmental disabilities. By contrast, the PCs have only sought savings by gouging our front line workers and cutting the services our most vulnerable rely on.

There are clearly savings to be found. If the PCs haven’t found any savings yet, it’s because they refuse to look.

Albertans need new schools, hospitals and upgraded roads. Building needs to be a priority for the long-term prosperity of the province. This will be harder and harder to do as interest payments become more and more burdensome under the PC plan of more and more debt.

We hope you will take the time to review the Wildrose 2014 Budget recommendations at wildrose.ca/feature/wildrose-releases-2014-budget-recommendations.

Please feel free to contact me at the Lacombe Ponoka Constituency Office at #101 4892 46 Street, Lacombe, AB T4L 2B4 . Email : Lacombe.ponoka@assembly.ab.ca or phone 403 782 7725.

 

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