Alberta budget is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go far enough to put out fiscal fire
Edmonton, AB: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is acknowledging that Premier Jason Kenney is beginning to restrain spending, but the province must do more to reduce total spending.
“This is a better budget than Albertans have seen in a long time, but taxpayers are being overcharged by billions of dollars every year and this budget doesn’t go nearly far enough to tackle the spending problem,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “The government is trying to put out the fiscal fire with a water gun. It’s better than past premiers that tried to put out the fire with a gas can, but Albertans voted for a fire truck, not a water gun.”
The Alberta government could save more than $10 billion every year by bringing spending in line with British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, according to the Blue Ribbon panel. In 2018, total spending was $56.3 billion. Total spending is projected to increase to $58.7 billion in 2019.
The government debt will reach $71.8 billion in 2019 and is expected to surpass $93 billion in 2022. The interest on the government’s debt will reach $2.3 billion in 2019 and surpass $3 billion in 2022.
“There are still dark debt clouds hanging over the heads of future taxpayers,” said Terrazzano. “Albertans can’t afford to fork over billions of dollars to the bond fund managers on Bay Street just to pay interest on the government’s debt.”
The Alberta government is increasing income taxes by ending indexation on tax brackets. This will push taxpayers into higher tax brackets because the province will no longer adjust them for inflation. This tax hike will compound quickly, costing taxpayers $20 million this year, $98 million next year; and, $196 million in the third year.
“The last thing Albertans need are tax hikes, especially sneaky tax hikes that hit families just because inflation bumps them into a new tax bracket,” said Terrazzano. “The government should have trimmed its own overspending instead of taking hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers and hoping they won’t notice.”