MLA COLUMN: Balancing the Budget

‘This year’s deficit will be $1.2 billion dollars less than we had projected in Budget 2019’

Mark Smith/MLA

Mark Smith/MLA

Last year, in Budget 2019, we introduced a balanced, prudent and thoughtful four-year plan to eliminate the largest deficit in Alberta’s history while maintaining essential services and supporting the most vulnerable Albertans.

Budget 2020 continues this plan, and we are on track to balance Alberta’s budget by fiscal year 2022-23. In fact, the projected deficit has decreased even faster than we initially planned. This year’s deficit will be $1.2 billion dollars less than we had projected in Budget 2019. Our government spends abound $2 billion every year just to service our debt. This works out to nearly $5 and a half million a day! That’s enough money to buy 30 ambulances every day, build a new school every week, or pave the QEII from Calgary to Red Deer every month.

Getting back to balance is the first step towards paying down our debt and redirecting this money towards the front-line services that Albertans rely on. Our plan involves reducing government’s operating spending by 2.8 per cent, less than three cents on the dollar, over the four-year fiscal plan. This is both responsible and fair.

Budget 2020 is also about creating jobs. The Alberta 2020 budget changes will make Alberta more competitive than other jurisdictions, encouraging sustainable diversification, and while rewarding innovation. We are attracting private investment to Alberta with the Job Creation Tax Cut. This will reduce Alberta’s corporate income tax rate to 8 per cent by 2022. And we are already seeing results from this initiative:

For example, CNRL, Mainstreet Equity and others have made big investments here in part because of our lower tax regime and Capital Cost Allowance.

In addition, our commitment to reducing red tape by one third by the end of 2023 is removing major obstacles and creating opportunities for business to expand and hire Albertans. This will allow businesses to focus on their bottom line, improve their revenues, and hire Albertans instead of wasting time navigating burdensome regulatory hoops.

Budget 2020 also underlines our commitment to Albertans to get the best value for their tax dollars and to maintain funding for health care, social services and education. We’ve kept that promise. There have not been any funding cuts to health or education. In fact, we will be funding Health and Education at record levels:

Health Care has a slight increase to its budget coming out at $20.6 billion.

Education has a small increase to its budget at $8.3 billion.

Community and Social Services $3.9 billion and Children’s Services at $1.6 billion.

We are also re-focusing how dollars are spent to ensure that funding is sent straight to the front line and are supporting Albertans who need it most. The new funding formula in education is designed to give school boards predictability in their budgets and ensure that education dollars are going to the classroom where they are needed most.

We will reduce overall expenses and are making prudent investments that will pay off this year, and in years to come. Budget 2020 takes the steps we need to take to rebuild the ground we lost during the past 5 years. The fiscal plan that started in 2019 is still strong, still in place, and already proving successful. We are on track.