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Budgetary disaster headed our way, warns Smith

Albertans should expect a “disaster” when Premier Alison Redford hands down her government’s budget on March 7, said Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith in Innisfail on Wednesday.

Speaking to news media during a fundraiser for the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake constituency association, Alberta’s opposition leader predicted the Progressive Conservative budget will be a sea of red ink.

“We knew last year, which we called the Alice in Wonderland budget, that there was no possible way the revenue projections would pan out,” said Smith.

“The Liberals said the same thing, the NDs (New Democrats) said the same thing, commentators and advocacy groups said the same thing. The only person who wasn’t listening was Premier Redford.”

Late last month, Redford gave a televised address in which she said that depressed prices for Alberta’s bitumen had taken a $1-billion bite out of this year’s budget.

“I think what we’re going to see in this budget is a premier that’s going to take the province deeply into debt, billions of dollars per year into debt,” said Smith.

Smith said the premier is trying to have it both ways by saying the government will live within its means, not raise taxes and have money left over to invest in the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund.

Yet at the same time, Redford recognizes the revenue projections she had won’t pan out, said Smith.

Alberta has always done well when it’s passed rules for how it would live within its budget, such as one for having no deficit and one for debt repayment, she added.

“The problem is with this government is they have been increasing spending at well above inflation and population growth for well over a decade,” said Smith. “They’ve always relied on resource revenues to bail them out.”

Smith’s right-wing party has presented alternative budgets for the last three years and will do the same this year.

She says the Wildrose solutions are straightforward — a spending limit law, a long-term capital plan that the government can afford over a 10-year period and is debt free, and cut wasteful spending.

Smith said the Tory government is needlessly spending $2 billion on carbon capture and storage technology which includes giving hundreds of millions of dollars to some of the world’s richest companies like Shell.

“And they put hundreds of millions of dollars into renovating MLA offices,” said Smith.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Kerry Towle said she’s frustrated that the provincial government continues to not hear the pleas of more than 4,000 residents who have expressed dissatisfaction with the junction of Hwy 11 and Secondary Hwy 781 re-opened.

The intersection was changed to a right-in, right-out configuration eliminating left turns to make the drive safer. Many residents feel traffic lights should have been installed.

“We have exhausted every possibility and we have a transportation minister (Ric McIver) who doesn’t want to listen,” said Towle. “That project is now pushing upwards of $10 million and given our fiscal situation, it’s such an irresponsible waste of money. That situation could easily have been solved with a set of lights.”

ltester@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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