Wildrose party leader, Danielle Smith, is hosting a Meet and Greet on Tuesday, April 15th from 7-9 p.m., at the Super 8 Hotel at 3820-56 Street in Wetaskiwin. The Meet and Greet gives Albertans a chance to bring up concerns and ask any questions that they may have. During a phone conversation, Smith talked about some of the ideas that the Wildrose have to make Alberta run more efficiently and be an even better place to live.
One of the areas that the Wildrose would like to change is municipal funding. With its 10/10 Community Infrastructure Transfer Plan to give municipalities more funding with no strings attached. The 10/10 plan proposes to replace the 5 main infrastructure grants: MSI, Basic Municipal Transportation Grant, Green Trip, the Water/Wastewater grants, and the Strategic Transportation and Infrastructure Program. Danielle Smith says, “Right now we have a beginning model for how to get funds to our municipalities. If they happen to have a particularly influential MLA or Cabinet Minister, a municipality might have some luck getting grants but we think that’s a terrible way to fund our municipalities in the long term. We want to create a long term stable funding model based on a formula for a dedicated amount of money that’s predictable each year.”
The premise of the 10/10 plan is that it would see the equivalent of 10% of provincial tax revenue flow directly to municipalities. Once a Wildrose government got the province back into a cash surplus (no longer draining savings or taking out debt), 10% of those surpluses would go back to municipalities as well. To ensure a fairly stable funding amount, instead of a formula connected to royalties, tax revenue would be used as a base. Combining this approach with a share of budget surpluses, the transfer increases with population and economic growth pressures. Wildrose is committed to ensuring that no community would be worse off under this plan. Any municipality expecting to receive extra funds from other special grant programs, would be helped by the creation of a transition fund that would guarantee no municipality receives less than they were planning on receiving.
This style of funding quite simply lets municipalities to the job that they were elected to do. “The local government closest to the people is the one that is most responsive, but it is also the one that receives the least amount of tax dollars. If we’re going to ask for local communities to do more then we have to make sure that they get the proper level of funding.”
The areas that the Wildrose Budget 2014 makes recommendations are, leadership at the top, ending corporate welfare, eliminate ineffective bureaucracy and empower our front lines, zero based budgeting, strengthening the Auditor General’s office, investing and saving. “They are such obvious ways to reduce spending without impacting front line services and yet year after year instead of seeing the waste, entitlement and perks go down, we see it continue and even get worse,” Smith says.
When asked about the recent scandals involving government spending Danielle Smith points out, “It wasn’t just the former leader that was abusing the government aircraft, or taking lavish international travel, it wasn’t just the former premier signing extravagant contracts for staff, these things all went through cabinet approval. The Sky Palace is another example of things that have a process for approval and nobody said anything. There is an attitude among the PC’s that the rules don’t apply to them and I think that what you see as a result of that is a lot of unnecessary waste of tax dollars that’s really alienating voters. We keep raising these issues to show that these issues are not going to be solved by just changing leaders.”
“People are seeing that things have been good in Alberta despite some of the incompetence of our government and we can do better. Why should we settle for having a mediocre government? People are saying what more can we do, what are the opportunities? What we are hoping to provide, is that alternative.”