EDMONTON, AB (November 14, 2012): The PC rhetoric justifying their plans to borrow billions for new infrastructure spending shows a frightening lack of financial literacy and awareness of global economic uncertainty, Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson said today.
Since 2004, the province had paid off its debt and paid for all infrastructure projects through annual revenue. Not including the current budget year, Alberta has spent $44.9 billion dollars on infrastructure through debt-free spending since that time; roughly double the amount spent per-person compared to almost every other province. Despite this, Premier Redford justified putting Alberta back into debt by falsely stating that “if everything we do right now is fully funded with cash in the bank, then we are never going to build anything more in this province.” In addition, Finance Minister Doug Horner, inappropriately compared government going into debt with young couples taking out a mortgage on a home. “It is dishonest and misleading to say we cannot build infrastructure if we don’t go into debt and then to compare government going into debt with families investing in their first or second home,” Anderson said. “Roads, bridges and hospitals, though important, are depreciating assets that are never sold, cost billions to staff and maintain, and debt-financing such assets puts taxpayers solely at risk. On the other hand, a home mortgage is generally an appreciating asset that is regularly sold, and if things go badly, taxpayers are not on the hook.” With the province facing a $3 billion dollar deficit after an “Alison in Wonderland” pre-election budget that increased operational spending by a whopping $2.4 billion, Anderson said that both Redford and Horner are now making up excuses as they mortgage Alberta’s future and trash our province’s no-debt reputation. “The PCs did not campaign on running this government back into debt, and it’s certainly not what Albertans are asking for,” Anderson said. “This government would have certainly lost the election had they campaigned on going back into debt, and they should either scrap their debt financing plans or at the very least, put the question to a provincial referendum.”