This Week in Alberta - Special Tuesday Budget Edition!
Ed Stelmach(February 23, 2008): “A Progressive Conservative government will never put Alberta back into a deficit position”
April 7, 2009: Alberta to post $4.7B deficit
After 15 consecutive balanced budgets, Alberta has plunged into deficit. And it's a doozy - nearly five billion dollars.
In fairness to the PCs, few saw this coming (CG last year: "with a low balled estimate of $78 a barrel oil, I'd expect a multi-billion dollar "unexpected" surplus"), but much of this is because they chose to cut when it was cheap to spend and chose to spend when it was expensive to spend. But irrespective of how much blame they deserve, if you're going to pass gimicky balanced-budget laws, you deserve to be criticized for breaking your own law. Especially when you increase spending by 12% the previous year.
Among the highlights:
-The government is projecting a 2% contraction in the economy this year, followed by 1.8% growth next year.
-If resource revenues do not increase this year, the government has said they will either raise taxes or slash spending to make up 2 billion dollars. Neither option would be a particularly attractive one.
-The Herald falls victim to government spin, proclaiming "the Stelmach government has cut about $400,000 from overall spending, reducing expenditures to a projected $36.4 billion" - yes, that's a 0.001% cut in spending. Even that claim is dubious since there are 3.7% spending increases across the board.
-Reading the recap on the government's plans for the environment is a tad depressing - 8 million less here, 10 million more there. It's clear that the PCs see the environment as about a big a priority for Alberta as having a strong navy.
But really, there isn't a lot to comment on. The budget largely follows the course laid out last year, with a bit more money here and a bit less there. It's a status quo budget which might be newsworthy in itself, given the huge shifts in spending and priorities we've seen elsewhere in the face of the recession.
For more on the budget, click here.
Labels: Alberta budget