Letter: Five per cent sales tax can be helpful for provincial deficit

Five per cent sales tax can be helpful

Are any of my fiscally conservative friends tired of living in a province where we are subject to the boom and bust management of our economy? Then let’s stop the insanity.

Two things we all should consider.

First, the plan implemented by Premier Peter Lougheed to contribute 30 per cent of Non-Renewable Resource Income to the Heritage Savings and Trust Fund was promptly abandoned by his successors in 1987. This began the move from being a fiscally responsible to being fiscally “conservative”.

If we had maintained the contribution to the HSTF it would now have roughly $90 billion and be generating almost $6 billion that could be used to offset fluctuations to our provincial revenues and help diversify our province

Secondly, perhaps what is needed now is an immediate implementation of a 5 per cent sales tax to offset our provincial deficit and properly fund our provincial budget. This would still be 1 per cent lower than any other province and far less than the 10 per cent four other provinces need in order to provide adequate services.

We do not have a spending problem. Since 1987 our province has relied on royalties for as much as 30-50 per cent of our annual budget. We have a funding problem.

I have personally written every one of our premiers over the last 15 years encouraging them to reinstate the Lougheed commitment and implement a 5 per cent sales tax, or raise my personal income tax rate to help pay for the type of society I want to live in. One where we have a health care system with appropriate service levels, an education system with effective classroom sizes and supports that give every student a chance, appropriate care for our seniors, an effective and efficient justice system, and proper supports for those in distress – in short, a world we want and are proud to live in.

With the exception of Peter Lougheed our conservative governments have mismanaged our economy for too long. It is time for a bold plan for a bold future. If you agree, write to Premier Jason Kenney and your MLA today.

Dennis Liesch, Red Deer

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