Alberta Budget 2016 has 'a big hole' where revenues should be: The Strategists
'We make more money off of VLTs and gambling than we make off of our oil and gas sector'
There's a gaping $10.4-billion hole in the Alberta NDP's budget for the coming year, and there doesn't seem to be any real plan to plug it, say The Strategists.
While Joe Ceci made good on the NDP's climate change and spending promises with the unveiling of his budget Thursday, political strategist Corey Hogan said the finance minister's fiscal plan doesn't address the burning question of how to bring in more government revenue.
"At one point in the budget document, it actually brags about how Alberta has, by $7.5 billion, the lowest tax system," Hogan said.
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"How do you brag about something like that when you have a $10.4-billion deficit and no clear path out of it?"
Political advisor Stephen Carter put things into context.
"We make more money off of VLTs and gambling than we make off of our oil and gas sector, he said.
The government expects to make roughly $1.4 billion off of non-renewable resource revenue this fiscal year, compared to $1.9 billion in gaming and lotteries revenue.
"This is the lowest revenues we've seen in 30 years in terms of royalty revenues," Carter said.
Even then, the government's oil price forecast is "very, very optimistic," said political strategist Zain Velji.
The budget is based on West Texas Intermediate oil prices averaging $42 US in 2016-17, $54 US in 2017-18 and $64 US in 2018-19.
"If that's your plan, and if that's the basis of your plan, that's of worry," Velji said.
"Today is Day One. A bit of luck and a bit of hard work is effectively what the NDP need," he added.
"They need some luck on that oil price to go up, and they need some hard work to get market access. That's what all this is for as we look to 2019."
With files from CBC News Calgary