New Brunswick's budget surplus exploded to more than $1 billion last year, even higher than the already massive figure put out by the Higgs government back in March.
Final audited financial statements for fiscal 2022-23, released Wednesday, show a surplus of $1.01 billion.
Finance Minister Ernie Steeves put last year's figure at $862.2 million when he released his budget for the current year in March.
But he said in a statement Wednesday the government spent $112 million less than it expected and brought in $38 million more in revenue than expected at the time it put out the lower number.
Because the fiscal year ended March 31, the $1 billion can't be spent now.
A graph from the report shows a widening gap each year between what the government forecasts in its budget and what actually happens. (Budget report)
But the Progressive Conservative government is already on track to exceed its surplus projection in the current 2023-24 year, too.
Steeves projected a $40.3 million surplus in his budget in March.
He warned at the time that "oddities" had contributed to the big surpluses of the previous year, and "you can't count on things staying status quo" this year.
But by August, figures showed the province was in fact on track for a $199.6 million surplus by March 2024.
The 2021-22 surplus was $777.3 million, itself an all-time record at the time.
The three years of underestimated surpluses are a point of pride for the Higgs government, which cites them as proof of sound fiscal management.
But they have become a potential political liability as Premier Blaine Higgs hints at a snap election this fall.
Critics continue to demand the PCs spent some of that flood of revenue in areas like housing, health care and inflation relief.
Steeves said in a statement the new surplus number for last year "informs the discussion on future tax and spending decisions."