In Their Own Words: Airdrie MLA candidates explain their positions regarding Alberta's finances
Joel Steacy - Liberal
The current governmentís budget is far too dependent on the high price of oil and natural gas.
Weíve seen previous budgets blown apart by an unexpected drop in prices.
This has led to uneven funding of our health-care and educations systems.
In Airdrie we have felt this through the lack of sustainable funding for infrastructure.
While we need to diversify our tax base, the Liberal Party of Alberta will not raise taxes on those making less than $100,000 per year.
We will not impose new taxes on small business; their rate remains at three per cent.
Large corporations will face a slightly higher tax rate, increasing a mere two per cent.
Those making a comfortable living will need to contribute slightly more.
The majority of us, over 90 per cent of Albertans will not face any new, or higher taxes.
The Liberals have made promises on spending, but we talk openly and honestly about how we plan to pay for them.
They arenít based on the hope of a return to budget surpluses they are made by implementing a fair tax structure.
I want to see our tax dollars spent wisely and I want spending decisions made locally.
Rob Anderson - Wildrose
With all the oil wealth in Alberta, how does a government run five straight deficits, drain its savings, reduce the Heritage Fund to less than it was worth when first established in 1976, and then say we may need to raise taxes?
Well, thatís what the PCs have done.
Alberta spends more than any province in Canada, yet our social services are not the envy of the nation in most respects.
The Wildrose believes that financial leadership must start at the top with how politicians pay themselves. Premier Redfordís decision to vote herself a 30 per cent pay raise after taking office in 2008, and to not have her MLAs return money received on the no-meet committee shows she isnít interested in change.
Wildrose will cut MLA severance packages by two-thirds, get rid of all committee pay, roll back MLA and Cabinet salaries, and make government salaries fully taxable.
We will bring back mandatory balanced budget legislation, limit increases in overall spending to inflation plus population growth, cut all direct corporate subsidies, prioritize infrastructure needs before wants, and make sure to build the Heritage Fund so that eventually our province will no longer be reliant on volatile non-renewable resource revenues.
Bryan Young - NDP
Itís time for everyday Albertans to get their say in the management and spending of their money.
Transparency and trust with our government has been lost in back-door deals and misuse of our taxes dollars.
Voters in this Province have shown their interest and commitment in this election to making their communities and families lives better.
Educated on the issues, attentive and innovative with their ideas are the folks in this Province (and if I may brag especially in our wonderful little community) they have proven you donít need a degree in business to have great ideas for our economy and are ready for real discussion and debate.
Broken campaign promises and vague words of appeasement will not suffice anymore.
The voices of those in the greatest need have fallen silent and the evidence of this is apparent.
Proper care of our seniors is not an issue we should be having in a Province as prosperous as Alberta.
Adequate and reliable funding along with long-term planning to combat issues such as this as well as education and health care ensures the lasting well-being of all citizens and will tremendously improve our quality of life.
Kelly Hegg - PC Party
Airdrie needs the necessary core human services and infrastructure in order to grow and prosper.
Just like in our family budgets, this needs to be done within our fiscal means.
You need to be able to trust that your money is being invested wisely. As a fiscal conservative, I will work to ensure that our government will:
ē Provide a three-year budget with no new tax rate increases, no new taxes or service cuts.
A three year budget provides predictable funding to school boards, municipalities and health.
This budget will be balanced as of next year and out of deficit by 2014. Our surplus dollars will be able to be put into our savings accounts Ė the Sustainability Fund and the Heritage Fund Ė that will help us to weather economic downturns and save revenue for our children and grandchildren. Surplus dollars should be invested where they will do the most good, not be viewed as extra money to hand out.
ē Use results-based budgeting where budgets are built from zero every third year in order to cut wasteful spending and unnecessary programs.
ē Maintain the lowest taxes in Canada with no sales tax, no payroll tax, no capital tax and the lowest fuel tax.
The 2007 Financial Investment Planning and Advisory Commission advised that Alberta is facing a $215 billion unfunded liability 20 years out, and the Heritage Fund is worth less today, in inflation adjusted dollars, than the day it began. In her defence, Alison Redford did not create these problems. She inherited them lock, stock and barrel from her predecessors, all of whom appear to have been rotten money managers.
How was this mess created? It was created by a 40-year-long expansion of government, combined with careless promises to both citizens and, in particular, government employees. To reward those who have thus mismanaged our economy with a vote is therefore frankly nothing short of unconscionable.
The Wildrose plan of banking half of future surpluses is admirable on the face of it, but what is a surplus?
Itís evidence of over-taxation. A surplus is better than a deficit, granted, but better yet would be a government that runs a tight ship, lives within its means and depends on its citizens, rather than a slush fund, for its daily sustenance. I might be dreaming in technicolour that weíll ever see such government again, but we certainly wonít if we donít strive toward it.