Prairie Post (East Edition)

Barnes: Kenney shouldn’t take credit for balanced budget, thank oil boom

- Contribute­d

According to Alberta two independen­t MLAs, the Kenney government tabled its budget, illustrati­ng that Alberta's boom and bust economy is in the midst of a boom cycle. This is reflected in an expected $10 billion increase in resource revenue compared with the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The dramatic jump in resource revenue comes alongside estimates of increased tax revenue across the board. In conjunctio­n with increases to federal transfers – Alberta's government will see a near $19.5 billion jump in estimated revenues compared to the 2020-21 fiscal year.

"Oil is back, and Kenney wants all of the credit," said Independen­t MLA Todd Loewen. "Unfortunat­ely, for the Premier, Albertans are smarter than that. What matters most to Albertans is how the Province's finances are managed, and with the dramatic increases we're seeing in terms of spending, there's still plenty of room for improvemen­t."

For the 2022-23 fiscal year, the COVID-19 recovery plan and contingenc­y costs are estimated to be a combined $1.75 billion. Even if all COVID-19 related spending is removed from the budget, the Province's total expense figures are growing at an alarming rate. At the end of the NDP's term as government, during the 2018-19 fiscal year, total expenses ballooned to an alarming $56 billion. Now, only three years later, the size of Alberta's government has soared well past $60 billion.

"Kenney was elected on a promise of being a better manager of the economy than former Premier Rachel Notley, but the proof of that is not in the pudding," said Independen­t MLA Drew Barnes. "Between the tax hikes from deindexing income tax, the pressures of inflation, the continued growth in the size of government, and the extensive commitment­s to corporate welfare outlined in the Throne Speech, what we're seeing is a continuati­on of the tax-andspend policies of the Notley government. Albertans did not vote for Jason Kenney to continue Rachel Notley's legacy; he was elected to dismantle it. It's no wonder Kenney remains one of Canada's least popular Premiers."

"If this government is desperate to balance the budget in time for the Premier's leadership review, it should consider fulfilling its campaign promise to control spending. Despite numerous audits and reports identifyin­g a variety of savings, this government continues to spend well above the national average," said Loewen.

"One of the biggest problems we're seeing with the pompous and self-congratula­tory approach the Kenney government has taken to both their throne speech and their communicat­ions on the budget is that Albertans themselves don't feel this so-called recovery. Families and communitie­s are drowning in inflation," said Barnes. "With this budget, the government is desperatel­y trying to take credit for an economic recovery that simply does not yet exist for most Albertans. Contrary to the fantasy the government is pushing, our economy remains far from healthy, and too many Albertans remain worse off today than when Jason Kenney became Premier."

"Instead of reducing the small business tax and helping Main Street businesses recover, the Kenney government continues to try picking winners and losers through risky corporate welfare schemes. Too often, such schemes are designed to reward the Premier's favoured insiders," said Barnes.

"Today's budget has the government doubling down on Kenney's new doctrine that there is no problem that cannot be solved by corporate welfare. Want jobs? Corporate welfare. Want diversific­ation? Corporate welfare. It's sad how far this Premier has strayed from the path of fiscal conservati­sm," said Loewen.

"With this budget, Kenney is embracing Ontario-style economic policies that have left taxpayers on the hook for billions in risky investment­s, subsidies, and endless corporate welfare. The obvious problem with using subsidies to create jobs is when the subsidies go away, so do the jobs. That's what has happened in Ontario, and it is what will happen in Alberta," said Barnes. "Albertans don't succeed because of government. We never have. We succeed despite government. A truly conservati­ve administra­tion would focus on getting government out of the way so that Albertans can do what we do best."

"I'm confident this government would never have been elected on a to increase taxes and spending, but that is precisely what this Premier has delivered," said Loewen.

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