Alberta’s Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, has faced constant questions from the Opposition in the Legislature about funding for the K-12 system. The Calgary Board of Education said they were bracing for cuts and other school boards across the province were as well. On Monday, Finance Minister Travis Toews stated new enrollment would be fully funded.
We’re only into our third week of the new government’s Spring/Summer session and it’s great news there won’t be cuts to education this fall. But it’s time to ask Kenney to show us the money.
In the last three weeks, Kenney’s government has passed two bills to decrease Alberta’s revenue. Bill 1, the “Carbon Tax Repeal Act“, or as I deemed it the “Our Province Isn’t Burning, That’s Fake News Act”, cut almost $2 billion in government revenue, or 1/4 of the cost of K-12 education in Alberta.
The second bill, Bill 3, the “Job Creation Tax Cut Act“, or as I prefer to call it, the “We Don’t Have Money For Public Services Act”, aims to decrease corporate taxes in Alberta from 12% to 8% over the next four years. That’s 25%.
Assuredly, corporate taxes aren’t a strong money maker in Alberta. Taxes are based on profits and Alberta hasn’t seen a lot of those over the past four years. In 2017-18, corporate taxes brought in $3.44 billion. To put that in perspective, income taxes raised $10 billion and “other taxes” such as tobacco, carbon, gas etc brought in $6.5 billion. All things considered, a 25% decrease in corporate tax revenue is still a lot of money; $860 million, to be exact. Less than half of the carbon tax revenue but not exactly petty cash.
Kenney promised not only to balance the budget, which had a $7 billion dollar hole in it before he cut revenue, but to have a $714 million dollar budge surplus by 2023. Fancy those numbers, pulled randomly out of one’s nether regions.
Subtract the carbon tax revenue and the corporate income tax revenue and he’s upped the operating deficit to $9 billion. If they’re going to fully fund enrollment in Alberta schools, that’s an increase in funding for K-12 schools. So where is the money going to come from?
A plurality of Albertans believed a Conservative government would be the answer to investment, and jobs, but oil prices don’t have favourite governments. Investment was supposed to increase this year but is instead entering what is called a “bear” market. Bulls charge ahead, bears sit down and can’t be moved.
If oil prices don’t rebound, oil investment in Alberta is very unlikely to increase. If investment doesn’t increase, Alberta’s “over 170,000” unemployed will still have no well-paying oil jobs for the taking. So I ask again, Kenney, show us the money.
This post is based on fact.
Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all the commentary, @thisweekinAB for posts.