Yesterday’s Alberta budget shocker, with its $4.7 billion deficit—the largest in the province’s history—puts Ed Stelmach’s Progressive Conservative government in an awkward position. To pass the budget, the Tories actually had to amend a Ralph Klein-era law banning deficits, one they’d likely rather see kept on the books. But Don Braid, of the Calgary Herald, notes that Tory discomfort over the budget might easily have been avoided—with a balanced budget. “The Tories only had to cut $4.7 billion from capital spending,” he writes. “That would have produced a clean balance sheet while leaving nearly $3 billion for capital works. Instead, they decided to spend $7.2 billion on capital and draw $4.7 billion out of savings to do it.” But Braid suggests that dropping the ideology, at least briefly, might have been a good move for the Tories—and for the people of Alberta. “Balancing the books would have thrown thousands out of work just when the private economy is shedding jobs.”
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