Over the past decade, the province of Alberta treated boom-time resource revenues like a permanent state of affairs. That set the province up for fiscal failure, for multiple lost opportunities.
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In the debate over whether the Alberta government should reduce and reform spending to cushion the blow from falling revenues, some claim higher taxes will balance the books.
Over the last decade, higher energy prices and entrepreneur-friendly policies drove Alberta’s booming economy, generating a significant windfall in government revenue.
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and Finance Minister Robin Campbell have made it clear the province will reduce government spending in its March budget.
With oil prices plunging and provincial resource revenues expected to drop, Alberta’s red ink will rise. In response, Premier Jim Prentice has floated the notion of a provincial sales tax and/or hikes in other taxes.
If there was ever a place that was the anti-Greece when it comes to public finances, it must be Alberta. Compare Alberta to many places around the world, be it European fiscal disasters, or even nearer to home, and in most decades, Alberta shines in comparison.