Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Surplus to Deficit and Back: Take a Ride on the Alberta Budget Roller-Coaster

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Surplus to Deficit and Back: Take a Ride on the Alberta Budget Roller-Coaster

Article excerpt

A look at the Alberta budget roller-coaster

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EDMONTON - Alberta's NDP government is to table its first budget on Tuesday. Here is a recent history of Alberta budgets:

2008-2009 (tabled April 22, 2008)

Slogan: The Right Plan for Today and Tomorrow

Premier: Ed Stelmach. Finance minister: Iris Evans

Alberta's last forecasted surplus budget. Total spending is up 10 per cent to a record $37 billion. Surplus of $1.6 billion. Health premiums, which have generated $1 billion annually, are eliminated to save families $1,056 annually. Alberta Employment Tax Credit increases 10 per cent to save a middle-income family with two kids $316 a year. There's money to hire 300 more police officers and create 14,000 child-care spaces. Good times don't last as the world economy takes a beating. By the third-quarter update, the province is on track for a $1-billion deficit -- the first red ink in 15 years. Evans blames $3 billion in investment losses in the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, one of Alberta's rainy-day accounts.

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2009-2010 (tabled April 7, 2009)

Slogan: Building On Our Strength

Premier: Ed Stelmach; Finance minister: Iris Evans

Budget forecasts a $4.7-billion deficit, the largest in Alberta history. Program spending is up 3.7 per cent, but resource revenue projections are cut in half. There are tax increases for alcohol and tobacco, as well as hikes in education property taxes. Annual coverage of $200 for chiropractic services is eliminated.

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2010-2011 (tabled Feb. 9, 2010)

Slogan: Striking the Right Balance

Premier: Ed Stelmach; Finance minister: Ted Morton

Deficit again forecast to reach $4.7 billion. Spending on health is up 5.6 per cent. Spending on education is up 4.6 per cent. There is a plan to spend $20 billion over three years on schools, roads and hospitals. The government holds the line on taxes.

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2011-2012 (tabled Feb. 24, 2011)

Slogan: Building a Better Alberta

Premier: Ed Stelmach; Finance minister: Lloyd Snelgrove

There is turmoil in the weeks leading up to the budget. Stelmach announces his intention to step down. There are reports his hand was forced by fiscal hardliners in his Tory party, including Finance Minister Ted Morton, who are unhappy with the string of deficits. Morton promptly resigns to run as Stelmach's replacement. Newly named Finance Minister Lloyd Snelgrove brings down a budget with a deficit of $3.4 billion. Spending is predicted to be $33.9 billion, up 2.2 per cent. Fees go up for car registration, incorporating a business, searching a land title and reserving a camping spot.

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2012-2013 (tabled Feb. 9 2012)

Slogan: Investing in People

Premier: Alison Redford; Finance minister: Ron Liepert

Redford's first budget is tabled right before a provincial election. It predicts an $886-million deficit, a balanced budget the following year and a $5. …

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