Budget 2019 has dropped. And wow, Alberta, It’s a doozy.
We knew something big was coming, but what we got has even the most conservative of pundits scratching their heads. Don Braid of the Calgary Herald lamented on “the budget’s casual passing of serious costs to powerless individuals.”
But I won’t act like the NDP opposition and slam every aspect of this budget. We need to work together across party lines to get Alberta on a track that will prepare us for the future and ensure our economy continues to provide quality jobs and opportunities for years to come.
I heard it loud and clear during the campaign that people wanted our province to rein in spending, and I completely agree. We have seen how billions of dollars thrown at K-12 education or health care have not resulted in decreased class sizes or improved wait times in our hospitals.
We need to rethink how we deliver services and fundamentally change organizational structures. That’s not a sexy, easy-to-sell message, but it’s the truth.
It’s also a truth blindly ignored by this budget as it slashes revenue through the implementation of discredited trickle-down economic theory and recovers those lost public dollars through the elimination of dozens of programs.
Instead of utilizing targeted incentives such as the Alberta Investor, Scientific Research and Experimental Development, and Interactive Media credits (all of which showed a return of 5-6 times the initial investment), the government is betting on a massive decrease in corporate income tax rates, a move that will shave $694 million in income (14 per cent) from the budget.
Minister Toews referred to diversification as a ‘luxury,’ but in reality it is a necessity to future-proof Alberta.
Capital projects are also in limbo. The Red Deer Regional Hospital is shifted to a “potential future project,” and our municipalities will feel extreme pressures through a $236 million reduction to the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.
Life for families in central Alberta will not become more affordable as costs are downloaded. Budget 2019 raises taxes for the typical family through de-indexing of tax brackets.
Finally, the legislative processes being used bring us back to the entitlement rejected by voters in 2015. The government has tabled large, omnibus bills to bring about the changes required to some 26 individual pieces of legislation. I’ve never liked omnibus bills; I hated Harper’s use of them and Trudeau’s use of them, and I am greatly displeased at seeing Premier Kenney bring this Ottawa tradition to Edmonton.
But there are other paths to balance that don’t reject open, transparent government.
Dozens of Alberta Party volunteers, former candidates, and consultants have collectively invested hundreds of hours in putting together our fifth annual Shadow Budget, which you can view at www.albertaparty.ca/budget2019.
The Alberta Party proposes that there is a way to balance our budget that respects the sanctity of public dollars but doesn’t irresponsibly reduce income, eliminate job creation and diversification programs, or punish the most vulnerable among us. I will be delving into this budget more online at www.facebook.com/myleschykerda and welcome dialogue.