POLITICS

Alberta creates online build-a-budget as it faces looming $6B cut in oil revenue

01/30/2013 05:52 EST | Updated 04/01/2013 05:12 EDT
EDMONTON - The Alberta government is inviting citizens to build their own online budget to show them where to cut spending and where to hike revenues.

The tool, found on the government website, allows people to click on options to cut various services and programs and see what effect they have on the bottom line.

Premier Alison Redford has said that falling oil revenues will mean a $6-billion hit to the next budget, which is to be delivered March 7.

The online budget, however, already doesn't mesh with reality.

Would-be budgeters can choose to increase taxes or bring back health premiums — two options Redford has rejected for this year.

The project is part of an information blitz by the premier to get the word out that her government is going to be making some difficult choices to try to hold the line on spending.

Opposition Wildrose party Leader Danielle Smith says the government's online tool is laying the groundwork to raise taxes.

She said in a news release that the tool lays out options of implementing a two per cent or five per cent sales tax, a health premium tax and puts corporate and income tax hikes on the table.

But Wildrose says the tool fails to list the actual cost reduction of what it calls wasteful programs — the Carbon Capture and Storage for 2012-13, which is $138 million, deferring capital costs or the recent MLA salary pay hikes.

“This budget document presents a false choice between painful cuts to several government programs or damaging new taxes for Albertans,” Smith said.

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On the web: www.budgetchoice.ca