Finance minister Iris Evans called it a “spending budget,” with a nearly $4 billion increase in the 2008 Alberta provincial budget laid out yesterday.
The budget, which was based on a modest $78 per barrel resource price, will boost health spending by $1.1 billion and add $468 million into crime prevention — with money for 300 additional police officers across the province.
In a move to fast track the elimination of health premiums, the province has committed to abolishing the fees by Jan. 1, 2009, which will save families $1,056 per year.
“It’s a spending budget, admittedly,” Finance Minister Iris Evans said.
“(However,) with new and expanded services, we were hardly going to get away with growth plus inflation.”
Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft says the Ed Stelmach-led government has failed in saving for Alberta’s future.
“I don’t know how a government like this can spend so much and fall so short on things as basic as elementary schools, emergency rooms and potholes,” said Taft.
This is the province’s 15th consecutive balanced budget.
—with files from Jeff Cummings
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