‘The best day to start is today’: Alberta bill sets budget constraints and more savings

EDMONTON – Alberta has introduced legislation that would force you to keep a tight rein on spending, save for the rainy days and keep paying down debt.

Finance Minister Travis Toews introduced Bill 10 on Thursday, which would mandate balanced budgets, limit spending increases and establish policies for excess cash, among other things.

It would also allow the government to keep all investment income within the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund.

The United Conservative Party government is forecasting a budget surplus of $2.4 billion for the 2023-24 fiscal year, with plans to reduce the province’s debt and help prevent deficits when oil booms fail.

With a population of 4.4 million, the province is on track to receive $70.7 billion in revenue and spend nearly $67 billion. Another $1.5 billion is being set aside for unforeseen spending emergencies.

The province also plans to commit nearly $2 billion to increase endowment savings to $20 billion.

“A compelling data point worth noting: if we had kept all of the previous gains in the fund from day one, instead of $18 billion, we would have a fund close to $300 billion,” Toews said on Monday. Thursday.

“As a lifelong Albertan, I wish I had been in a position to start saving sooner. However, the best day to start is today.”

Toews said there is enough flexibility in the bill for it to stand the test of time.

But it’s not set in stone.

“The reality is that a fiscal framework can be changed. We bring it in by legislation and future governments would have the ability to change it,” he said.

“If we bring a fiscal framework with the required flexibility, I think these rules will be durable. They will work for Albertans and then there will be a real political cost to change them.”

The legislation would also tie future municipal funding levels more closely to provincial revenues.

Toews said in discussions with municipalities that more predictable and consistent funding was needed.

He said the bill would “strengthen the partnership with municipalities and allow them to share more fully in the ups and downs of provincial revenues.

“Starting with the 2025-26 budget, percentage changes in municipal funding levels would be equal to percentage changes in provincial revenues for the previous three years.”

Other highlights of the bill include a two percent cap on future tuition increases, a new agricultural processing tax credit, and dental, drug, vision, and other supplemental health benefits coverage for children adopted in Alberta out of care. from the government or an authorized adoption agency.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 9, 2023.

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary


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