EDMONTON - Premier Alison Redford is trying to reassure Albertans that the province's operating budget will balance in the next fiscal year.
A recent note from Redford's office to party members suggested that the government was working toward a balanced budget in 2014, despite repeated earlier statements that next year's budget would contain a small operating surplus.
On Tuesday, Redford repeated assurances made by her staff that the note was nothing but a simple mistake.
"I can only say that that was an administrative error on the part of the party," she said. "We clarified our position (Monday) — it is consistent with what (Finance) Minister (Doug) Horner has been saying all along."
Redford has been drawing a distinction between the operating budget, which deals with ongoing operations and services, and the capital budget, which finances infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.
"We've been very clear with respect to our plans going forward for budget 2013-14," she said. "We intend to balance the operating budget, we will have in place a fully funded infrastructure capital plan (and) we will have a savings plan in place."
Redford has acknowledged that means borrowing. But she says that's the right way to pay for long-term investments.
"We will have a plan to ensure that are we able to support the resources that we will access through capital markets." Alberta is getting squeezed by volatile oil prices and remains on track for a budget deficit as high as $3 billion this year — almost 3 1/2 times its original prediction.
The province's Opposition Wildrose party has attacked Redford's government for returning to what it calls deficit budgeting.
Leader Danielle Smith has said the governing party can't balance the budget despite overseeing one of the strongest economies in North America.
She has accused the Conservatives of constantly relying on energy prices to bail them out of overspending.
Related on HuffPost:
Here's a breakdown of how the Alberta government parceled out spending last year. Information provided is <a href="http://finance.alberta.ca/business/budget/2012-13-Expense-by-Function.pdf">Expense by Function estimates</a> provided by the Alberta government.
7.1 per cent of the budget went to General Government - Includes a broad range of additional services including funding for parks and recreation, cultural activities, housing initiatives, economic development, costs to run government and debt servicing expenses (interest payments).
1 per cent of the budget went to Environmental funding - Provides for environmental monitoring and protection, including pollution control, water supply management, air quality control, garbage collection and waste disposal and a host of other environmental programs and initiatives.
Regional Planning and Development
2.7 per cent of the budget went to Regional Planning and Development - Includes amounts for planning and regional development and a portion of the grants made directly to municipalities, including the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.
Protections of Persons and Property
3.9 per cent of the budget went to Protections of Persons and Property - Includes amounts for the protection of persons and property, including amounts for policing and security, the provincial court system, correctional and rehabilitation services, firefighting, labour relations and a host of other regulatory measures.
Transportation, Communications and Utilities
4. 6 per cent of the budget went to Transportation, Communications and Utilities - Includes amounts related to road, rail and air transport and maintenance, public transit grants, as well as pipelines, utilities and telecommunications networks.
Agriculture, Resource Management and Economic Development
5.4 per cent of the budget went to Agriculture, Resource Management and Economic Development - Includes amounts for farming support programs, food supply quality monitoring and protection, weed and pest control, crop insurance programs, natural resource management, economic and rural development, irrigation and veterinary care.
11.5 of the budget went to Social Services - Includes social assistance (e.g. AISH), pension benefits, and care for children, seniors and other vulnerable Albertans.
22.9 per cent of the budget went to Education - Includes Early Childhood Services to Grade 12, as well as post-secondary education, skills training and the construction and maintenance of educational facilities.
40.9 per cent of the budget went to Health - Consists of expenses incurred to ensure necessary health services are available to Albertans and includes funding for hospitals, medical and preventative care and the construction and maintenance of provincial health facilities.