Alberta could have had an extra $18.7 billion since 2001 if we did not cut corporate taxesEDMONTON&mdashPublic Interest Alberta launched the first of five animated commercials today to build public pressure on Premier Prentice to fix Alberta’s flawed and unfair tax system so that we can invest in public services like full-day kindergarten in the future.
“If we don’t challenge the Premier to establish a progressive income tax and fair corporate taxes today, then in future years we not be able to invest in important services that matter to Albertans,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “We need a Premier who is going to commit to fix our government’s long-term revenue problem so we have sustainable funding for important public priorities. The solutions to these problems are right in front of us - and they are reasonable solutions.”
In the 2012 election, the Conservative Party promised to fund full-day kindergarten in all Alberta schools at a cost of $200 million. Every province in Canada except Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will have full-day kindergarten by 2016. While many school boards across Alberta currently support and raise money to provide full day programs in targeted schools, PIA is calling on the government to at least commit to fund full-day kindergarten in 50% of Alberta schools at a cost of $100 million.
“We are currently trapped by the misguided notion that our taxes need to be $11 billion lower than the next lowest province in the country,” said Mark Ramsankar, President of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. “That trap keeps us from adequately funding key programs like full-day kindergarten that would help our most vulnerable young people and would pay an eleven-to-one return on the investment. It is time we fix our revenue problem and get out of this trap.”
To put the current projected deficit in perspective, had the Conservative government not dramatically reduced corporate taxes from 15.5% in the year 2000, the Alberta government would have brought in approximately $18.7 billion more from 2001 – 2014. Even if they saved only half of this amount, we would have more than enough in a sustainability fund to address the short-term drop in revenues and invest in key priorities.
“While we are very frustrated that Premier Prentice recently said he would not change the corporate tax structure, we are still hopeful he will at least get rid of the flat tax in favour of a progressive income tax system,” says Moore-Kilgannon. “If we had the same progressive tax system as BC, this would mean that a person with a taxable income of $200,000 would have to pay $4560 more while someone with a taxable income of $60,000 would get a tax break of $1039. Government figures show this would bring in close to a billion dollars more per year.”
The media conference was held at the North Central Teacher’s Convention where a number of cut out “flat people” were on display to illustrate all the important public priorities being “flattened by the flat tax”.
To see the commercial and images from the media conference, go to Public Interest Alberta’s “Alberta Could” website at www.AlbertaCould.org.- 30 -