MLA RON ORR COLUMN: Exploring government funding

Legislature debate on Bills 5 and 6

In the Alberta Legislative Assembly we have had much discussion and debate on Bills 5 and 6. Both have passed third reading this week. These bills are appropriation bills that authorize government spending.

Bill 5 – The Appropriation (Supplementary Supply) Act 2019, covers previous spending up to March 31, 2019. The current government needs supplementary or additional funds because the previous administration over spent their budget by approximately $873 million dollars. This is in addition to the already $9 billion-deficit budget that the NDP government incurred.

The process used to do this was by passing special warrants in cabinet before the election. Now, ironically, the new government is required, by law, to pass a bill that approves cabinet action. These funds have already been spent and this was one of the last actions of the previous government.

Bill 6 – The Appropriation (Interim Supply) Act 2019, covers eight months of the new budget year starting April 1, 2019. It covers the period up to November 30, 2019.

This is not a full year’s budget, but an interim period, which allows the government time to prepare a new budget. This is common practice. In 2015, after the NDP were elected, they did not present their first budget until the fall Session, as we this new government are doing.

During the interim period, April to November, before an official budget is presented for debate and vote, the government is at work preparing. The budget preparation began when your government commissioned the MacKinnon Panel to do a “deep dive” into the state of the Alberta finances.

This report will assist the government, and work with every department, to determine its spending priorities. They will work with Treasury Board and Finance to deliver a full budget to the Fall session.

The Interim Supply Bill authorizes $32 billion of spending from April 1 to November 30, 2019. These funds will keep Alberta’s services running while the new government takes time to consult and plan a responsible and responsible budget.

The government was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility and getting back to a balanced budget by the end of the term. After years of poor fiscal management, we can no longer delay getting our finances back on track. Nor may we continue to pile debt on the shoulders of Albertans.

The spring of fiscal renewal has come!

If you have any questions or concerns on this or any issue, feel free to contact my constituency office at 403 782 7725, or e-mail Lacombe.ponoka@assembly.ab.ca or stop in 101, 4892 46 Street, Lacombe, AB T4L 2B4.

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