Alberta opposition says promises of balanced budget being fudged

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CALGARY - The Alberta government is under attack by opposition politicians who say a promise of a balanced budget is being fudged, but Premier Alison Redford says nothing's changed from the government's perspective.

Associate finance minister Kyle Fawcett said earlier this week that a balanced 2013-2014 budget may not happen, saying it would only be the operating budget, which doesn't include infrastructure.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith says that would constitute a broken promise on the part of the Conservatives, who spoke before the election of plans to balance the budget by limiting spending.

Smith, who also promised to balance the budget during the election campaign, says Redford owes Albertans "an apology for campaigning on such an intentionally deceptive budget."

Liberal finance critic Kent Hehr says his party has been warning all along that the Tories' promise was based on shaky financial ground.

But Redford says nothing's changed and her government is "fully committed to the commitment ... made in last year's budget," adding she has always said this year's deficit would be $950 million.

Finance Minister Doug Horner also says the promise of a balanced budget for 2013-2014 will be fulfilled.

"I think everyone knew back when Redford announced this budget back before the election it was essentially a 'fudge-it budget,' yet she ran on being able to balance the books," said Hehr.

"This is not in the cards and it's an admission by this government that they're unable to do so. We've all seen this dog and pony show before."

Wildrose finance critic Rob Anderson said it is "utter nonsense" for the Tories to claim a budget is balanced without counting any money spent on infrastructure.

"This is like a family saying they have a balanced budget as long as you don't include their mortgage and car payments," he said.

(The Canadian Press, CHQR)

Organizations: Conservatives

Geographic location: Alberta, CALGARY

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