June 25, 2012
PCs must address looming budget crisis: Anderson
EDMONTON, AB (June 25, 2012): Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson is calling on the Redford government to stop ignoring Alberta’s brewing budget crisis and put together an emergency ‘Plan B’ in order to deal with falling oil prices and the growing deficit. With oil prices nearly $20 a barrel lower than forecasted in Budget 2012, Alberta faces a potential $5 billion deficit and $7.5 billion cash shortfall if prices don’t recover for the rest of the year.
Meanwhile, Premier Alison Redford and Finance Minister Doug Horner continue to downplay what it all means for Alberta taxpayers and refuse to say what they will do if the trends continue. “The Premier is playing Russian roulette with Alberta’s financial future,” Anderson said. “She intentionally high-balled her budget revenue projections in her pre-election budget in order to soothe Albertans worries about growing deficits and out-of-control spending. Now their reckless financial mismanagement has Alberta staring at a combination of tax hikes, debt-financing and deep cuts. The Wildrose has been warning about this for years, but the PCs have ignored the warnings and as a result, we are staring at a budget crisis similar to 2008 – but this time we have no more savings to help us make it through.” Anderson noted the Wildrose would immediately put a halt on all grants to corporations including the $2 billion carbon capture and $3 billion AOSTRA 2 programs, limit spending increases in departments to inflation plus population growth or lower and immediately prioritize spending on urgently needed infrastructure and front line services while delaying funding for initiatives that can wait a year or two. “Alberta is quickly heading down the road of Ontario, Quebec and the United States. These were once healthy and robust economies that looked unstoppable. However, because of selfish election-focused spending habits and a complete lack of fiscal discipline, they are all starring at an unprecedented fiscal cliff, he said. “Likewise, the PC government has blown through Alberta’s rainy day fund, stripped the Heritage Fund to less than it was worth when first created in 1976, and is now banking on record oil prices just to shrink the deficit. It is tragic what they have done to our province’s finances.”