Do you remember Premier Stelmach’s old O&G royalty framework that had the well intentioned effect of harnessing more oil royalty revenue for the province’s treasury? Well, the Calgary old boys club took fast Eddie aside and had him dismantle it. Combine this with some sweetheart deals for public servants and brutal management of the public purse and you get our current budgetary quagmire. Rocket science it’s not. Particular interest groups were well served while average non-resource and non-governmental sector citizens stepped up and paid and paid and paid primarily for a health care system that represents approximately forty-five per cent of the pie. We are not simpletons Mr Prentice. We Albertans understand that the top marginal rate in Alberta for combined federal and provincial income tax is 39 per cent and of the federal component we pay, there are transfers back to the province in the amount of $ 5,477,000 (2015-2016) to assist with the operation of our health and social systems.
Had they increased income taxes for those earning less than $100,000, there would have been major political fall-out. On this count, they get it right today. Frankly, I’m surprised that the percentage increase wasn’t higher. In regards to sin taxes, certainly the hospitality industry may feel an affect (bigger cover charge coming at the Boudoir Rouge?) somewhat but in the context of the magnitude of the problem, a thumbs up to this measure and one more nudge toward those in search of healthier living. To the speeders and violators of traffic rules, we look forward to more of your money but I ask, what about the “distracted drivers”. Certainly we could have hit them with a four-fold increased fine.
I have no problem with an increase in user fees in the context of our problem. If you are going to take your monster truck into crown lands and expunge our province’s natural beauty, then we can get you to pay for reclamation. A nerve struck somewhere for certain? No reclamation bond yet but camper’s fees on the rise at provincial parks.
As for the gas tax, Albertans deserve an increase. I don’t know how many driver-only occupied luxury loaded four by fours I see bearing down on my bumper nowhere near rush hour in Calgary. Once they find and opening and scream by, I see their bull balls dangling from the chassis and wonder why they’re taking their toy downtown. Make ‘em pay.
Although not a simpleton, the ego and brazen ruggedness of the cowboy prevented him from entertaining a sales tax for fear of being chastised by the brother from B.C.