The Budget Is Balanced. Let's Keep It That Way!



Yesterday, the Alberta government tabled their 2023 budget.

We will have a full analysis of the various parts of the budget in the coming days and weeks, but we wanted to let you know asap about one particular big win we've achieved.

After two years of budget surpluses, the government has announced that they will be re-introducing balanced budget legislation in Alberta!

Balanced budget legislation was in place during the Klein years, and helped repay the massive debt that Alberta had built up.

But, the 2023 version of balanced budget legislation is actually even better.

Not only does the legislation require the budget to be balanced; but it also limits spending increases to only the rate of population growth and inflation - finally bringing some fiscal discipline to the runaway spending we have seen in recent years.

The legislation also ensures that a significant portion of any future surplus goes toward debt repayment.

Balanced budget legislation, limits on spending increases, and a clear debt repayment plan are all things that the Alberta Institute has been fighting for since our inception five years ago.

So to get all three in one nice neat package is a massive win for us, but more importantly, a massive win for you - our supporters - and indeed for all Albertans.

There is one note of caution to be sounded, though...

The trick with any balanced budget legislation is getting the politicians to actually follow it.

Klein's balanced budget legislation was followed while Klein was Premier, but successive regimes started to slowly ignore more and more parts of the requirements of the law, where they could get away with it.

Finally, Premier Redford's government dropped the pretense and just repealed the Act entirely, leading to almost a decade of deficits, from multiple parties.

We need to learn from that mistake.

When the current Finance Minister, Travis Toews, was asked what the penalty should be for a politician who breaks his proposed new balanced budget law, he said: "One hundred days in jail."

He was joking, of course.

But, even if he wasn't, the problem is that any punishment for breaking a balanced budget law could be just as easily repealed by future politicians as the balanced budget law itself - just as happened in 2013. 

So, how will it be different this time?

Well, for starters, we’re here!

The Alberta Institute doesn't just fight to get good policies implemented; we fight to keep good policies in force, all while working to educate the public about why the ideas are good in the first place.

Because, in the end, the only thing that will ensure Alberta's finances remain strong is Albertans.

If you want to help us continue our work promoting ideas like this and defending good ideas that are already in place, please consider getting involved by signing up to volunteer on our campaigns, or by making a donation to support our work.

Thank you to everyone who has given us support along the way, as we fought for these policies to be introduced.

We look forward to working with you on many more successes in the future.

Peter McCaffrey
Alberta Institute

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