By Rob Anderson, MLA Airdrie-Chestermere
Most Albertans are forced to make important personal financial decisions every day. For some, it’s choosing whether it makes more financial sense to repair their ailing vehicle or replace it with a new one.
For others it’s deciding whether to rent or own. And for still others, it’s a choice between saving a little bit for later in life or putting the kids in hockey for another year.
Making these kinds of decisions and millions more like them is called making ends meet. Generally this implies, looking at ones expected income, sorting out what is needed and what can wait; and then prioritizing the spending and saving of that income accordingly.
The vast majority of us are able to do this reasonably well – yet the current PC Government is seemingly unable to do so.
An egregious example of this is the most recent announcement of a $340 million (yup, that’s not a typo) new Royal Museum to be built in Edmonton to replace the Royal Museum that already exists.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the arts and other cultural centres, and I don’t even begrudge reasonable government support for such projects; but perhaps a little reality check is in order.
We have a cash deficit this year of over $4 billion – and that’s if oil is over $100 a barrel for the rest year, which it almost certainly will not be unless there is an uprising in Saudi Arabia.
The Government is building a massive south Calgary hospital and has budget $0 to staff it. They’ve announced dozens of new schools while cutting the number of teachers. The Calgary and Edmonton ring-roads are still unfinished with a very expensive ongoing negotiation underway with the Tsuu T’ina nation. Highway 63 to Fort McMurray is a death trap in desperate need of twinning; and Airdrie is the largest community in the province without a hospital built or announced.
I could (and I’m sure all of us could) go on and list at least 100 things that are more important than replacing a museum with a $340 million price tag…not to mention the PCs planned $2 billion in grants to corporations to pump CO2 in the ground and $275 million to give MLAs a new office building in Edmonton.
So how much is $340 million dollars?
It’s a new hospital and 4 new schools for Airdrie.
Its hundreds of kilometers of 4 lanes on the road of death to Fort McMurray.
It’s thousands of teachers and nurses.
It’s a huge chunk off of the deficit.
It’s the final leg of the Calgary ring road.
And if you add the $2 billion for carbon capture and the $275 million for MLA offices, it would probably pay for all of the above!
And that’s just the most obvious government waste – trust me, there is much much more.
So what would a Wildrose Government do different…pretty simple actually. We would use objective criteria to analyze infrastructure projects and upgrades and rank them publicly on a priority list for all Albertans to see, so everyone would know the exact priority of each proposed and requested infrastructure project.
We would then bring our infrastructure spending to the same per person level as BC, Ontario and Quebec and spend those monies on the top priorities of that list.
The days of a secret infrastructure list and making massive spending decisions based on political priorities or favours would be over.
Albertans have to prioritize and live within their means…why should their government be any different?
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