Political maneuvering has shifted into high gear as Quebec finance minister Nicolas Marceau has announced that the PQ minority government's second budget will be unveiled next Thursday February 20.

The announcement increases speculation that elections could be called at the end of March or mid-April, as opposition parties showed little intention of cooperating with the PQ on the new deal.

In fact Liberal leader Philippe Couillard brazenly predicted that Marceau's budget would not help the province. "They will be wrong again but they will put a sugar coating on it that's for sure," said Couillard.

His skepticism was echoed by fellow-opposition party leader Francois Legault.

"The foundation of that budget will not be very credible," he said Friday.

Marois shot back, saying that the opposition is impossible to satisfy. “We already see that the CAQ wants us to balance the budget now, but it’s impossible considering the revenues.”

The National Assembly will then go on hiatus as MNAs return to their home ridings after two weeks of debate.

The Parti Quebecois government has been hinting that it will call an election soon afterward, sending voters to the polls at the end of March or early April.

It is even possible that Marois could even dissolve the assembly before the budget is even tabled.

Marceau issued a statement Friday that he had consulted with more than 75 groups in pre-budgetary meetings and had received more than 60 memos.

Marois said last week in Shawinigan that Quebec’s economic picture had no changed since last November, which suggests that the budget will cap the deficit at $2.5 billion this year and $1.7 billion next year.

Interim Auditor General Michel Samson is also expected to deposit an economic update on the same day, which is expected to make several economic recommendations.