August 29, 2013
PC budget update paints grim fiscal picture
CALGARY, AB (August 29, 2013): Despite increases in energy royalties and a deflated price differential, the free spending PC government remains on pace to run a massive $5 billion cash shortfall this year that will saddle Albertans with over $17 billion in debt by 2016.
The first quarter fiscal update showed that little has changed in Alberta’s fiscal picture since the Back in Debt Budget was passed in the spring with no concrete plan in place to pay for the extensive flood damage throughout southern Alberta. This quarter alone the government borrowed $500 million and raided another $300 million from what’s left of the sustainability fund. With global uncertainty in world markets and the PC government still relying on high oil prices to bail them out, Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson warned that Alberta’s balance sheet is on a fiscal cliff unless the government takes remedial action. “The province drained the savings fund when times were good and now the province’s finances are left in a mess with impending flood recovery costs across southern Alberta,” Anderson said. “This PC government fails repeatedly to prioritize spending. They waste billions of dollars on corporate welfare and extravagant perks for insiders while neglecting basic responsibilities.” Anderson also blasted the PC government for its new reporting format that intentionally hides the true scale of the government’s fiscal mismanagement. “When the Auditor General can't make sense of the numbers, you know it's bad. The new reporting system is designed to deceive and keep the government from being accountable as it continues to blow through our tax dollars,” Anderson said. “It’s time for the PC government to end this ridiculous shell game of dividing spending into operational and capital spending and including only operations in their deficit calculation. It’s misleading and it has to end.” The Wildrose has put forward proposals in the Wildrose Financial Recovery Plan to get the budget on track responsibly by focusing on priorities, ending corporate welfare, freezing wages, shrinking government and working towards public pension reform. The Wildrose 2013 Preliminary Flood Report also lays out 22 recommendations to better prepare for future floods, to restore homeowners and businesses impacted by the flood and to protect taxpayers by putting a reasonable cap on funding for which any home or business can qualify.