Alberta premier says deficit will come from money spent on infrastructure

EDMONTON — Premier Ed Stelmach has made his first public appearance in Edmonton since announcing his intent to step down.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach speaks to the Rotary Club

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach speaks to the Rotary Club

EDMONTON — Premier Ed Stelmach has made his first public appearance in Edmonton since announcing his intent to step down.

Although Stelmach refused Monday to take questions from reporters, in his speech to the Rotary Club he offered up more information about the highly anticipated provincial budget.

“There will be a deficit and it will come from the money we are spending on infrastructure, not on operations of government,” he said.

Stelmach said the deficit will be covered by provincial savings.

He also shared some of his previous budget frustrations while he was the minister of infrastructure.

“It would drive me nuts,” he recalled. “We would be proud and give away this big amount of (transportation infrastructure) money.”

But balanced budget legislation would force him to go back and delay his promises.

“Health would overspend, education would overspend,” he said. “They would come to transportation and say, ’give us some of your money back.’ Well, I couldn’t grind up the doggone pavement — it’s already done.”

Stelmach said he plans to serve the president of the Conservative Party his letter of resignation after the spring session.

Until that point, he said he will “continue to govern to fulfil commitments I made in the last general election.”

Stelmach announced his plan to step down last Tuesday, sparking plans for a leadership race prior to the next provincial election.