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PCs waste over $104m in annual 'March Madness' spending frenzy

EDMONTON, AB (March 24, 2015): The PC government spent an extra $104 million last March on items like fine china, skate guards and Legislature office furniture in its annual March Madness spending spree designed to run government budgets dry, according to documents released by the Wildrose Official Opposition. 

Wildrose Leader Heather Forsyth called the March spending frenzy a typical example of PC overspending and waste after 44 years in government.

“It’s simply unbelievable that while Premier Jim Prentice is threatening the largest tax increase in Alberta history his government spent over $104 million in this annual use-it or lose-it spending spree,” Forsyth said. “This is even more insulting given the fact Mr. Prentice is set to bring down the biggest tax increase in Alberta’s history.”

Wildrose obtained financial reports through the freedom of information process showing how spending increased drastically last March—the final month of the fiscal year—across government. In Executive Council (including the Premier’s office), March spending went up 10,661 per cent from the non-March average of $10,839.53 to $1,155,642.26 for “Other Purchased Services”. This pattern is consistent across all government departments.

Total government March Madness for 2013-14 can be found here, split by category here.

Examples of overspending include:

  • $80,893 for new chairs in the Legislature
  • $34,081 for skate guards
  • $28,235 for new park benches
  • $9,676 for fine china in the Premier’s office
  • $5,881 on napkins and linen for the Premier’s office

“While this government brags about its ‘results based budgeting’, departments are looking for ways to burn through their money,” Forsyth said.  “This is just another example of how Wildrose would protect taxpayers by ending March madness, without hurting front-line services.”

Wildrose specifically didn’t include figures from Municipal Affairs or Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, which were affected by flood and fire spending.

Wildrose House Leader Shayne Saskiw said it’s outrageous that Prentice is looking to raise taxes on Alberta families when the PC government is green-lighting March Madness each and every year. 

“This flies in the face of everything the Premier has been saying about raising revenues by increasing taxes. The government treats its budgets like found money instead of money paid by the people of the province,” Saskiw said. “A Wildrose government would immediately stop this spend-it or lose-it policy that is so disrespectful to Albertans and do budgeting differently.” 

Wildrose House Leader Shayne Saskiw said it’s outrageous that Prentice is looking to raise taxes on Alberta families when the PC government is green-lighting March Madness each and every year. 

“This flies in the face of everything the Premier has been saying about raising revenues by increasing taxes. The government treats its budgets like found money instead of money paid by the people of the province,” Saskiw said. “A Wildrose government would immediately stop this spend-it or lose-it policy that is so disrespectful to Albertans and do budgeting differently.”