April 02, 2012
JUST THE FACTS: The Alberta Energy Dividend
After releasing the Energy Dividend Pledge, Ms. Redford and some commentators have made statements and raised questions about the Dividend which have already been answered in the Pledge document, which can be found at www.wildrose.ca/pledge. Here are the facts: Claim: In response to the Alberta Energy Dividend Redford said: "The question must be asked. If there are these daily announcements without understanding or being prepared to explain the overall framework, where do we end up losing?"
(http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/canada/Smith+pledges+Ralph+Bucks+style+royalty+rebates/6398163/story.html) FACT: The "overall framework" is clearly presented in our first Balanced Budget Pledge: www.wildrose.ca/pledge. Perhaps the Redford should evaluate our positions before misrepresenting them publicly. FACT: As surpluses grow due to spending restraint, 50% of surplus will go to restoring our Heritage Fund, 20% to Albertans through the Alberta Energy Dividend, and 10% to municipalities. Claim: The Alberta Energy Dividend will make it harder to balance the budget. FACT: Just the opposite. Funds will only be distributed to the Energy Dividend after the budget is balanced. Once the budget is balanced 20% of all surplus funds will be put towards the Dividend. This will ensure future governments will not be tempted to spend surplus revenues on corporate welfare and other pet projects like the PC $2 billion carbon capture boondoggle. Claim: The Wildrose plan puts health and education funding at risk. FACT: The Wildrose Balanced Budget and Savings Act prioritizes funding on hiring more front-line employees such as nurses, teachers, and special needs assistants. Funding for the Alberta Energy Dividend will only be directed from 20% of provincial surpluses. FACT: The Wildrose Balanced Budget and Savings Act prioritizes funding on hiring more front-line employees such as nurses, teachers, and special needs assistants. Wildrose proposes increases to operational spending every year, and health and education will always be the priority. Funding for the Alberta Energy Dividend will only be directed from 20% of provincial surpluses - it will not affect annual program spending at all. Question: Why not lower taxes rather than pay out dividends? Fact: The Wildrose is the only party to make an unconditional commitment not to raise taxes. Tax cuts are also a long-term Wildrose goal. That said, because our resource revenues are volatile, tax cuts are not feasible in the short term because they make us susceptible to budget shortfalls in years when royalties decline. Dividends are a more responsible way to give back to Albertans until we have secured the kind of reliable surpluses that make tax cuts reasonable, particularly once our Heritage Fund is large enough that its annual returns are big enough to replace royalties.