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Morning Fix: Better or Worse Than Predicted? Steele to Update 2011-2012 Budget Forecast

Finance Minister Graham Steele will deliver the 2011-2012 budget's first updated forecast today at One Government Place.

Honestly, I'm not sure what will come out of this one. If I had to bet, I would say the numbers are not remarkably different from April, when the Department of Finance revealed a projected $389-million deficit for the year.

Of course, these things are notoriously hard to predict. Just ask the Department of Finance, who kept finding more and more money over the course of last year to turn our projected $222-million deficit in April into a $447-million surplus at year end.

The line from Steele and the Premier's Office then was that one-time windfalls ended up saving us from deficit. But if those one-time windfalls start popping up every year, expect the opposition to cry foul (although they've held back from charging the books are cooked, a favourite tool of the NDP while in opposition).

I'll be liveblogging the proceedings, which get underway at 1:30 p.m., both here and on twitter.

As mentioned yesterday, Premier Darrell Dexter is in Shelburne today to officially re-open the Shelburne Ship Repair yard. He'll be joined by Jim Irving, CEO of Irving Shipbuilding, Steve Durrell, president of same, and Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau. Weird, you almost never hear Belliveau referred to as the "Aquaculture" minister - usually environment or "fisheries." I wouldn't read too much into that, though. Ships Start Here! Woo!

On the committee scene, the standing committee on community services will meet today from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Dennis Building to discuss something called the "Children and Youth in Crisis Taskforce of the Maritime Conference's Church in Action Committee." And I thought the government had a monopoly on unwieldy initiative names. Well done, United Church of Canada.

Halifax Regional Council has a laundry list of items to discuss today, and some of them are fairly interesting.

The one we'll all be talking about, forever, is a motion from Dartmouth Centre Coun. Gloria McCluskey to have staff look into alternative names for the Halifax Regional Municipality. This got a lot of attention on twitter yesterday - with many people criticizing the councillor for devoting energy (and, I suppose, theoretical tax money) to what they perceive as a minor issue.

Look, the Halifax Regional Municipality is a stupid name. It's bland, it's long, and it's difficult to work into a sentence with any measure of eloquence. But that's not as big an issue as, say, poverty, violence or economic development. But council deals with all of those things, with a greater or lesser degree of success, simultaneously. There's little harm in commissioning a staff report on our official name.

But there are a number of more interesting and important items on the agenda, too (see!). For instance, should the municipality blow our entire 2013-2014 active transportation budget on one path connecting Burnside to Bedford, that will double as a service road for utilities? Should Larry Munroe have a look at the councillors' code of conduct before it gets voted on by council? &c. As always, you can follow along live courtesy of, and maybe our colleague Aly Thomson could even be persuaded to liveblog a few hours (hint hint, @alythomson).

And that's pretty much today, so far. Check back at 1:30 for the above mentioned liveblog, and in the meantime, have some sympathyfor the number crunchers at finance.

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