My friend Duncan makes an excellent point about the Liberal costing of their platform.
Just as important as "WHAT will you spend money on?", and "HOW MUCH will you spend on it?" is the question that Albertans, traditionally, have been quick to ask their federal leaders, but not pursued quite as aggressively with their provincial government: "WHERE will this money come from?"
Nobody expects the Liberals to release their first budget in the middle of the campaign... but, we know where the dollars are coming from for Ed's spending promises - we're running a surplus. Taft had promised the surplus away within a few days of the writ being dropped, so where is the extra money coming from? They've committed to raising royalties an additional 20% (nah, THAT won't cause some of the big players, and their tax and royalty dollars - to leave), and figure that will pump an extra $1.9 Billion into the economy - IF everyone stays in the game (they don't mention that last part). Since they committed 30% of royalties to certain endowments, that leaves $1.3 Billion - again, if everyone stays. What they neglect to mention is, if they have committed 30% of ALL Royalties, then while their Royalty hike grosses us an extra $1.3 Billion in general revenue, it also sucks 30% of the $10 Billion we annually receive for our oil and gas... I'm no economist (Kirk, can you run the numbers when you're done moving offices?), but I'm pretty sure that means our NET from this exercise, all other things remaining equal, is a loss to program spending of $2 Billion - or we don't cut $2 Billion worth of programs, and instead we a) raise taxes, b) institute a provincial sales tax, c) run a deficit, or d) all of the above.
ON A BRIGHTER NOTE, I've got to say I am simply delighted that both of the parties vying for control of the government have seen fit to release a near-fully costed (or one-third of fully costed in the case of the Liberals, according to a PC press release) platform. The voters deserve to know what they're being asked to buy with their franchise. I'll go into detail analysing those platforms in the next few days. In the meantime, check them out for yourselves:
Costed Progressive Conservative Platform
Costed Alberta Liberal Platform