Pro­vin­cial bud­get trou­bles MLA

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

MLA Rick Strankman has re­viewed the Al­berta Govern­ment bud­get and it has him see­ing red.

The Al­berta bud­get was re­leased on April 14. The high­light for Strankman was a low light, and that is debt.

“Ex­ten­sive debt, some­thing north of $50 bil­lion by the end of the term of this govern­ment,” said Strankman.

He likens the hard time the pro­vin­cial econ­omy is see­ing to the BSE cri­sis. Dur­ing this time, ranch­ers could not sell their prod­uct and cur­tailed their spend­ing. In this case, it doesn’t ap­pear the govern­ment is do­ing the same.

“It seems in this case, the govern­ment is go­ing ahead and main­tain­ing its spend­ing line,” he said.

“To be run­ning into a deficit of some­thing north of $50 bil­lion with only $10 bil­lion an­nual in­come, it is go­ing to be pretty dis­mal go­ing for­ward for some time,” said Strankman.

The bud­get fore­casts a $10.4 bil­lion deficit in 2016. In ad­di­tion, it also out­lined the govern­ment’s car­bon tax regime. A car­bon levy of $20 per tonne will come into ef­fect on Jan­uary 1, 2017, and then a year later jump to $30 per tonne.

“In this busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment there is go­ing to be a car­bon tax that is go­ing to be hang­ing over ev­ery­one. The ef­fect is go­ing to be on the price of gaso­line, diesel or even the freight. For a busi­ness like HiWay 9, how is that go­ing to af­fect their busi­ness? Six miles east of where I live, there is not go­ing to be that tax.”

The bud­get says the new car­bon levy will cre­ate jobs, di­ver­sify the en­ergy econ­omy and drive new tech­nolo­gies

that will add to the ex­port econ­omy.

He wor­ries the ad­di­tional level will have an af­fect on Al­berta’s com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

“One of the Al­berta ad­van­tages we have is that our ac­tual en­ergy costs on power bills is mi­nus­cule. It is the trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion charges that are go­ing to the moon,” he said.

He ac­knowl­edges there was some con­tro­versy when he asked for the sci­en­tific re­search that jus­ti­fied bring­ing th­ese poli­cies for­ward. He be­lieves the sci­ence of man­made cli­mate change is un­set­tled and al­ways chang­ing.

“In some peo­ple’s minds, the sci­ence is com­pletely set­tled, in my mind it is not un­like cen­turies ago, the sci­ence was that the earth was flat and there was a guy that sailed off into the sun­set and even­tu­ally dis­cov­ered what I un­der­stand is now Cuba,” he said.

There may be a few pos­i­tives. He does note that the govern­ment low­ered the small busi­ness tax from 3 per cent to 2 per cent. There was also two new tax cred­its he would like to learn more about.

“They don’t go into any greater depth, and we haven't had time to pour through the books to un­der­stand what that means,” he said.

Rick Strankman… Drumheller-Stet­tler MLA

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