March 24, 2015

Despite disadvantages, Texas still tops Alberta; budget deficits to blame

Rebel Staff

Texas has done a better job of balancing its books than its Canadian "counterpart," Alberta, at least according to a new Fraser Institute report, "A Tale of Two Energy Booms."

This despite the fact that Alberta enjoyed a stronger post-recession economy.

“As the government tables its budget this week, Albertans should ask their elected officials why the province has struggled to balance the books despite a relatively strong economy,” said Mark Milke, a senior fellow at the independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank, and the study's author.

Texas and Alberta experienced similar rates of average annual GDP growth, but Alberta witnessed greater employment growth and lower unemployment rates.

However, according to the report:

Since 2000, Alberta’s per capita government program spending increased by 69.5 per cent compared with 59.5 per cent in Texas. Moreover, Alberta public sector employment grew 2.8 per cent—annually, on average—compared with 1.1 per cent in Texas.

Consequently, in the five years since the recession, Alberta’s government has not recorded a single budget surplus.

Texas, on the other hand, has recorded only one deficit.

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commented 2015-03-25 01:05:22 -0400
@ Valerie
Yea, Provincial Equalization Program … another wonderful Liberal idea. NOT! But that’s not the worst of it, many in the East treat Alberta with disdain and outright hatred all the while snatching the cash from our hands. Some, such as Quebec, don’t just bite the hand that feeds them, they grab it and tear it apart (figuratively speaking, of course.)
commented 2015-03-25 00:03:47 -0400
The big difference between Texas and Alberta is that Texas doesn’t have to use its resource revenue to support an entire country.
commented 2015-03-24 19:48:52 -0400
@ Mark Borzel
You make a good point and I don’t have a good answer for that. I was all for the Wildrose until Danielle and many others upped and turncoat. I am still fuming over that one. The NDP, no way no how. The Liberals … over my dead body (figuratively speaking of course). Sad state of affairs. All I can hope for is that the Wildrose gets enough people to run in the ridings before Prentice calls an election.

As to the bureaucracy and the public sector, both have to be seriously trimmed. We need another Ralph.

The political landscape in Alberta at this time is a sad state.
commented 2015-03-24 19:27:21 -0400
Unionized public sector employees is always going to be a big problem when it comes to provincial budgets. I started working in the BC Forest Service in 1968. We were not unionized back then and we worked long hours for low wages. Eight hours a day for a monthly salary of $324, and we didn’t get paid overtime. We had to work it, we just didn’t get paid for it. There was an “unofficial” policy of taking overtime off at straight time when the work was caught up and things were slack. That is as long as we didn’t accumulate too much overtime; If there was a particularly bad fire season, taking all that overtime off could mean that we’d be gone for the rest of the year, even at straight time, and the work still had to be done. (We actually did the work back in those days, not just monitor the logging companies to make sure they did it right). So why did people work for the Forest Service, when they could have made so much more money and work less hours if they worked in the logging industry? We did it because we LOVED it! It was the first job I ever had where I actually looked forward to getting up and going to work Monday morning. There was a camaraderie, a pride of work, and a friendly competition that I had never experienced when I was logging, or in any other private sector job. Then the Barrett NDP government was elected and everything changed. We got a huge pay increase, our hours were shortened and we got all kinds of other perks and benefits that we’d never dreamed of. And I must admit, in the beginning, I drunk the Kool-Aid like everybody else. I started developing a “What’s in it for me” and “What about my rights” attitude. But the joy of the job was slowly eroded away. The Ministry began to grow at the top, with more and more high paid, highly “qualified” administrators and “experts”, and fewer and fewer field personnel. So the department began to grow larger and larger, while actually accomplishing less and less. I think that’s lesson to be taken for all bureaucracies; they tend feed off of one another and the more they grow, the larger they… accomplishing less and less while growing bigger and bigger. And trade unions are a large contributor to that process, by making it nearly impossible to cut the fat once it’s been established. My advice to anyone who has to belong to a trade union in order to work is this; get involved with your union, whether you support trade unions or not… ESPECIALLY if you don’t support trade unions. They can only run their socialist agenda with the blessing of those who show up at the meetings, and only those who run for office can be elected union leaders, and union leaders can only be elected by those who vote. So get involved with your union, whether you find odious or not. And public sector employees should not have the right to be unionized.
commented 2015-03-24 18:31:00 -0400
Easy enough to say that Albertans should “boot print” the provincial Conservatives’ butt to the curb… and who would replace them? The Liberals? Even the BC Liberals can’t do a proper job. The NDP? I’ve lived under NDP governments — never again! There are too few Wildrose candidates to make a government, even if we could give them a majority. So, it’s easy for you to say “turf them”. What’s your suggestion for an alternative? Not only that, but REGARDLESS of who makes the government, there STILL EXISTS the overbloated and entirely inefficient bureaucracy. Who’s going to tackle the unions? This is the reality. Easy to say, NOT easy to do…
commented 2015-03-24 14:29:07 -0400
Each of the states are required to maintain their own fiscal house, otherwise they have to declare bankruptcy. This is a motivator for them to keep their fiscal house in order.

Problem here is that provinces can just get more money from the provincial equalization program should they mess up their finances and guess who pays the majority of that bill. There is no motivation for provinces to keep in the black when they can just soak up some more from the “have” provinces, of which there are currently three.

With this wasteful bloated thieving Alberta PC government in conjunction with lower oil prices, those provincial equalization payments are going to go down a long way. These PCs must go. Albertans need to boot print their butts to the curb. Let them think about their improper “entitlement” attitude while nursing their soar butts as third party in the legislature. A couple of terms should do it. Just sayin’
commented 2015-03-24 14:28:55 -0400
Agreed, Ellen. But the problem doesn’t stop there — the public service is controlled by unions, and NO union likes to cut back its staff, or (worse yet) cut back staff wages. On top of this is a government that doesn’t know how to be fiscally responsible in the first place. The last premier Alberta had who could handle money when it was tight was Klein, and then he became profligate when the economy turned around. We haven’t had one premier who, when times were good, set all the “profits” aside, because bad times WILL come around…
commented 2015-03-24 14:26:21 -0400
@warren Wade – Norway has much better social services than Alberta. University is even free to Norwegians. Do your own research and stop grinding other commentators.
commented 2015-03-24 13:22:26 -0400
Anonymous, what is the percentage of the population that vote in Norway. According to polling data, what value is placed on education, healthcare, and fiscal responsibility in Norway. Is their public service unionized and are there production targets for employees in the public service? Are they paid to work or to simply show up. I think the answer to your question comes down to 2 simple expectations from the population. Individual opinion makes a difference when votes are counted in relation to public office accountability. Expectation of service from the public sector affects those individual opinions when it comes time to vote.
Summarily, you get what you pay for…IF you research what you’re paying for and hold it to account.
commented 2015-03-24 13:00:06 -0400
Problem seems to be with the size of the public service!
commented 2015-03-24 12:22:05 -0400
i would like to understand how a socialist government in Norway…has been able to produce oil and manage to spend to cover all the programs they have and still save huge amount of funds? Are they selling 5x more than alberta?