The combination of worsening economic conditions and the government's refusal to change course on spending means Alberta will rack up debt more quickly, with a projected budget deficit of $28.9 billion over the next three years. For context, that's roughly 50 per cent more than currently sits in the Heritage Fund, a "nest egg" that took decades to build.
Beyond higher taxes or more debt, there has always been another option: prudent spending. However, that is something the Alberta government has been less than adept at in some years. For instance, had the province increased program spending after 2005/06 and to 2012/2013 but only in line with inflation and population growth, it would have spent $22 billion less compared to what it actually sent out the door.
Either you raise taxes or cut services to millions of Albertans. Or both. You can't make a balanced budget exist out of no where, although the Redford Conservatives have tried by calling their previous budget balanced by excluding capital funding. Skirting the fundamental problems with Alberta's governing party can only go so far and a part in government can only run around the issue for so long before reality hits.