April 22nd, 2024

MLA Justin Wright says Albertans will be happy with upcoming budget

By COLLIN GALLANT on February 29, 2024.

Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Justin Wright has offered his thoughts on the top priorities for the Alberta government as the latest legislature sitting gets underway. Wright speaks to constituents in this May 2023 file photo.--News Photo Collin Gallant

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Chief issues in the new sitting of the Alberta legislature will be provincial finances, the reorganization of health care and concerns about drought, according to Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Justin Wright.

The first-term MLA also said the budget itself will be a positive for the region.

“It’s been a very good year,” Wright told the News this week ahead of Wednesday’s opening of the spring session, which precedes Thursday’s tabling of the budget.

“I a, really looking forward to some of the announcements that are coming.”

Last week, Premier Danielle Smith addressed the province on TV to outline plans to prioritize growth in the Heritage Trust Fund, but also that a proposed personal income tax cut, promised in last spring’s election, would not be considered this year.

That could be phased in beginning in 2025-26, she said, and Wright agreed with his leader that with oil prices softer than in 2023 and going forward, it is prudent to hold off.

“Folks want us to make sure that we’re being fiscally responsible and not spending ourselves into deficit,” he said. “We’ve heard positive feedback on that, but tax breaks going forward are not off the table.

“It’s something we ran on that we would do over a four-year term and it will continue to be a conversation that we’ll bring forward.”

Wright was elected in the May 2023 general election, and sat for 20 days last fall in an initial sitting.

He was in Edmonton on Tuesday for the first meeting of “water advisory committee” that will provide feedback to the environment ministry as it plans ahead for potential drought this summer.

Government House Leader, MLA Joseph Schow, was expected to address the media on Wednesday regarding the session and government priorities.

A major remake of Alberta Health Services into four separate, specifically tasked organizations is proposed as early hallmark legislation from the Smith government.

Wright said discussions have been ongoing and planning is well underway.

“It’s very important for government as well as the local community,” said Wright.

“It’s a situation that’s continuing to evolve and be looked at.”

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