Process Behind Institutional Reform in Alberta

The Process Behind Institutional Reform in Alberta
By Ronald Kneebone and Kenneth McKenzie
When the Klein government took office in 1993 they had one goal, to balance the budget without raising taxes. "The Process of Institutional Reform in Alberta" by Ronald Kneebone and Kenneth McKenzie outlines how the Klein government achieved the impossible; balancing Alberta's budget without increasing taxes.
The authors interviewed 48 individuals including members of the government, civil servants, bureaucrats and various other stakeholders. The general theme of these interviews was the process behind the cutbacks and institutional changes. Kneebone and McKenzie highlight the key points that were made by most interviewees as to how the government balanced the budget so effectively. The main elements to successful institutional reform and deficit reduction under the Klein government were:
1. The size and the speed of the cutbacks.
2. The source of Alberta's deficit problem was that it had a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
3. The importance of a big spending cut.
6. The Allocation of Cuts Across Departments
These eight factors were the backbone to institutional reform in Alberta.McKenzie and Kneebone also point out that Alberta was in a position that was ready for reform. They point out the policy reform is often typified by these six common elements (Wilsford, 1994):
1. The perception of crises- there was a definite perception of an impending financial crises in Alberta as a result of over 20 years of fiscal irresponsibility
2. The presence of a relatively simple, somewhat hierarchical political system that is able to act quickly- the Klein government began to implement cutbacks immediately upon election
3. Strong and determined political leader- na

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