Another year, another massive budget deficit, albeit with a token reduction this year to 8.8 billion dollars. Accompanying the budget, the NDP government has produced a plan to return to balance by 2023, a plan built on a rickety foundation that assumes that the Kinder Morgan pipeline will be built and operate at capacity, that oil prices will increase, and that diversification of the economy will provide an increased tax base. There is no plan B.
The UCP has reacted in a predictable manner with thunderous denunciations of the deficit, while providing no concrete suggestions as to how they might do better. They blame the NDP for overspending, while giving no indication of how they would cut expenditures.
Neither party has the courage to acknowledge the obvious fact that the real problem is not overspending but a shortfall in revenue. The old cash cow of the petroleum industry is drying up, and there is little indication that it will return to its former vigour within the foreseeable future.
IT IS TIME FOR ALBERTA TO BEHAVE LIKE A NORMAL PROVINCE AND BRING IN A SALES TAX! A sales tax in the 5% range would take a big chunk out of the deficit and put us in range of balancing with prudent cuts in expenses. Accordingly, the Green Party of Alberta has long supported the imposition of a sales tax in Alberta. The fact that we are the only party to acknowledge this glaringly obvious need speaks much about the poverty of political discourse in Alberta today.