New report reveals a decade of big spending by PC government

By Rick Bell,QMI Agency

First posted: Thursday, February 19, 2015 07:34 PM MST | Updated: Friday, February 20, 2015 11:01 AM MST

They couldn’t expect us not to notice the very noticeable elephant in the room.

The provincial government of Premier Jim Prentice tells us this year they need $7 billion they don’t have. They blame the tanking oil price for the missing money.

They say they must take more dollars from you.

They hope you won’t look around and see the big, fat elephant — their elephant, a bloated creature fathered and fed by Progressive Conservative politicians.

Yes, we’re talking about the out-of-control spending over the past decade on the day-to-day running of the government.

We are NOT talking about spending to build stuff. We’re not jawing over how much went to constructing new schools or roads or health facilities.

We are just talking about spending on the day-to-day bills.

A warning.

The following information from Fumbling the Alberta Advantage, a Fraser Institute study released Thursday, contains scenes of gross irresponsibility and stupidity.

Reader discretion is advised.

Back in 1993, the Government of Alberta’s day-to-day spending in 2013 dollars was about $9,000 a person.

Three years later, the Ralph Klein government cut the spending to about $6,800 a person.

In 2004, with Ralph still at the helm, operating spending was back up to $9,000 a person.

A lot more cash was coming in from oil. Dollars were freed up from not having to fork out for interest costs because the debt was being paid off. Spending went up.

But that wasn’t good enough for Toryland.

In the years to follow, the provincial PC government torqued up the doling out of daily dollars beyond accounting for increases to the cost of living and the growth in the population.

Talk about torquing. By 2013-14, day-to-day provincial government spending jumped by $2,000 a person.

According to the report, much of the spending “can be traced to the public sector and how it has swallowed extra revenues available to the province.”

Had the PC rocket scientists in Toryland stuck to hiking spending by the increase in inflation and population, the provincial government would have saved $49 billion over the last decade.

In the last budget year alone, the province would have saved $8 billion.

Now remember, we’re now told the province’s budget is in the hole by $7 billion.

If the PCs had shown a smidgen of self-discipline, they could have filled today’s $7-billion hole without raising your taxes.

Mark Milke, one of the report’s authors, says Albertans would be “throwing rose petals” because the PCs “had been so prudent instead of spending every year as if they were going to get a gigantic Christmas bonus.”

Alas, the PCs of the past decade decided to jack up spending like there was no tomorrow, thinking big oil money would flow in forever.

It didn’t.

Like an eatery owner after someone dines and dashes, we are left holding the tab.

Then again, Albertans did keep the PCs in power despite many scribblers of all political stripes banging the drum time and time again about the spending and mismanagement in Toryland.

How often did we speak? Too often and to little effect.

That’s not all.

If the PCs hadn’t decided to go hog-wild on day-to-day spending, more bucks could have found their way into building schools, roads and the like.

“If the family hadn’t spent so much money on going out five times a week they could have saved more money for sports equipment, a new car and renovations to the house,” says report writer Milke.

And since the PCs spent so much money keeping everyone happy within government they also couldn’t sock away multi-billions in the rainy-day Heritage Fund.

Yes, the worst suspicions are confirmed.

Milke says the province has to deal with the salaries, benefits and pensions of those on the provincial public payroll.

He says Albertans should ask themselves a question.

“Why on God’s green Earth should I be forced to pay more tax into a broken system the premier himself isn’t fixing?”

Others will argue a different case.

They will point out in this time of “burden sharing” tax hikes and fee increases for individuals are in the budget mix but hiking the low tax on corporations is somehow off the table.

Whatever the fight, everyone agrees where the finger of blame should be pointed.

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