Today (March 15), the Wildrose Official Opposition released its 2017 Pre-Budget Recommendations: a 3-Part Vision Back to Balanced Budget that includes an immediate $2.6 billion reduction in government spending and a new Fiscal Reform Commission to reduce government expenditures, balance the budget and maximize economic growth.
“The NDP government’s budget plan means more wasteful spending and leaving future generations at risk,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “The recommendations being put forward today by the Wildrose Caucus means a vision to lower taxes and create growth for our economy. It is a mandate to balance the budget within a three year time-frame and begin that work with immediate reductions in spending.”
Wildrose Shadow Finance Minister Derek Fildebrandt presented the 2017 Pre-Budget Recommendations at the Legislature today.
“Our plan is to re-establish Alberta’s fiscal house on the high ground,” Fildebrandt said. “Spending & taxes are out of control, hurting our economy and driving us dangerously deep into debt. We will cut wasteful spending, stop borrowing money that we don’t have, and cut taxes for all Albertans. We will build a new Alberta Advantage.”
A new Fiscal Reform Commission would be mandated by a Wildrose government to make recommendations to the Finance Minister as to how to responsibly balance the consolidated budget within three years, and return to surplus growth in net financial assets within four years.
Based on the government’s most up to date projections, revenues in 2020 will surpass 2016 expenses. The Wildrose plan requires government to meet emerging needs by prioritizing spending.
The Commission, modelled after the successful federal Conservative Strategic and Operating Review that found billions in reductions over three years would be mandated to find savings to meet balanced budget target dates while protecting front-line public services. The Commission’s panel would consist of elected officials and experts within the public and private sector.
The Commission would also be charged with providing advice to the Minister of Finance on the best means to maximize economic growth through reductions to business taxes, income taxes and other economic policies.
Today’s announcement from Wildrose includes a call for the complete elimination of all spending under the carbon tax slush fund, including the billion dollars wasted on the job-killing coal shut down. Wildrose would immediately repeal the carbon tax and aggressively fight Ottawa’s attempt to mandate a carbon tax on Alberta.
“We will immediately, and entirely, eliminate the Carbon Tax Slush Fund,” Fildebrandt said.
Other key measures to control and reduce spending include:
. Reducing the size of the bureaucracy through attrition and a hiring freeze for all non-essential positions ($312 million);
. Freezing all government salaries ($210 million);
. Implementing previous Results-Based Budgeting recommendations ($250 million); and,
. Reversing NDP decision to eliminate private sector linen services in health care system ($206 million).
Fildebrandt said these spending reductions are common sense, protect front-line services, protect Albertans from future tax hikes and limit the cost of escalating debt.