March 06, 2014
Budget 2014: Doubling Down on Debt
EDMONTON, AB (March 6, 2014): Budget 2014 confirms the PC government remains steadfast on the path of growing Alberta’s total debt load, saddling taxpayers with hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments and further jeopardizing the delivery of core services, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
Despite revenues projected to be the highest in Alberta history at $44.4 billion, the PCs will run a consolidated cash deficit of $2.7 billion and take on an additional $5.1 billion in debt. Budget 2014 also affirms that Alberta taxpayers will carry $21 billion in total debt by 2016. That means $820 million in interest payments alone that will be diverted away from every day services Albertans rely on like education, health care and policing. At the new and increased rate of borrowing, Alberta will be borrowing $14 million a day, $585,000 an hour, $10,000 a minute and $160 a second. “Albertans simply can no longer afford this PC government,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said. “After promising during the last election to balance the budget and stay out of debt, the PCs’ short-sighted and reckless spending will have lasting impacts on future generations and no doubt cause long-term pain as we deal with the debt we are taking on today.”
At $46.2 billion, Budget 2014 is the highest spending budget in Alberta’s history and represents an 8.6% spending increase over Budget 2013. Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson notes the massive spending hike breaks a promise Premier Alison Redford made three days ago in the Speech From The Throne when she promised to keep spending increases below the rate of inflation plus population growth. “With this kind of record-breaking revenue stream, it is unconscionable that the PCs continue to plunge future generations into debt that will cripple our ability to deliver programs and services,” Anderson said. “This year, the PCs had a genuine opportunity to balance the budget and get off the debt path. Instead, they’ve doubled down on debt and are sticking our children and grandchildren with the bill.” Anderson also noted the PC debt repayment plan stipulates $100 million a year for principal repayment. “At that rate, it will take 220 years to repay the debt, and that’s if the PCs don’t borrow one additional penny beyond 2016,” Anderson said. “Albertans remember the Getty era of debt and they remember how painful it was to fix. The Redford PCs seem intent on repeating history.”