He may be back in his old job, but Finance Minister Tom Marshall is facing a new set of challenges.
"Obviously when I was there last time, we had revenues like never before, driven mainly by oil and minerals," Marshall told The Telegram.
"Now we're in a different time. We're in a great recession and the numbers are different."
In Marshall's first tenure as finance minister, spanning most of 2007 and 2008, booming oil prices saw the province record sky-high surpluses and slash billions off its net debt.
But this fiscal year, lower commodities prices led the government to project a $750-million deficit.
Marshall issued a warning about the pace of government spending.
"We have to ensure that the investments we make - whether we make them in health, or in education, or anywhere else - are sustainable over the long term," he said.
Marshall added that those investments must allow the government to provide access to programs and services, both "today and for future generations."
Those investments have been cycling higher and higher in recent years. This year, the province expects to spend $519 million more on programs than it did last year.
In 2009-2010, the government budgeted to pay out a shade less than $7 billion in gross expenditures.
In the Williams administration's first budget, brought down in 2004, gross expenditures were budgeted to come in at under $4.3 billion.
The current estimate is 63 per cent higher than five years ago.
"At the current level, I think it's going to be very difficult to sustain it, because the way the costs are going - we've gone from X-ray machines to CAT scan machines to MRI machines to PET scan machines," Marshall said when asked if today's level of overall government spending is sustainable.
"And people will want us to provide that investment. The cost of drugs is also high. So we have to spend our monies wisely to make sure, as I said, that people have access to the system and access to good quality health care when they need it."
Marshall's challenge now is balancing declining revenues against increasing needs.
He said the key is "spending wiser, and spending smarter."
Marshall - who boomeranged back to finance in the cabinet shuffle forced by Paul Oram's resignation from politics earlier this month - said it's too early to tell definitively where the province's ledger books stand for this year.
But it is unlikely he will have the same amount of cash as the oil-fuelled years of the recent past.
"I would think so, but when I came into this job last time, I never thought oil would go through the roof the way it did. We're starting to see signs - oil took a run the last couple of days, the dollar took a run the last couple of days. So what does that mean? I can't predict the future. I'm asked to, but I can't. Who knows what the future is going to bring."