Politicians often scoff at the idea that government agencies should budget the way that businesses and households do. We’ve seen the disastrous consequences of that approach at every level of government, from the trillions of dollars of federal debt right down to the local level here in Clackamas County.

Think about the way you balance your checkbook every month. You know how much you have coming in through your paycheck and other sources of income. Many expenses like rent are fixed. Others, like utility bills, vary from month to month. But you put together your household budget based on what your income and expenses are.

The government tends to do the exact opposite.

Too often, the approach in government is to put together a wish list of what politicians and bureaucrats want, then declare a budget crisis when the tax dollars coming in don’t reach whatever lofty amount they set for their priorities. That so-called budget crisis is then used to justify more taxes and fees coming out of your pocket. The end result is that it becomes more difficult for you to balance your checkbook and pay your bills every month.

However, the strain on your pocketbook is only an afterthought to politicians and bureaucrats who forget that the funds they spend so freely come from you, the hardworking taxpayer. Consequentially, they spend the money in ways that you, as a responsible individual, would never think to do. Remember—politicians don’t care how much money they spend or what they spend it on, because it isn’t their money. It’s yours.

Can you imagine if a business was run this way? It would keep raising the costs of goods and services on customers, who would then take their business elsewhere. That business would have no choice but to close its doors.

As chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I intend to take a common-sense approach to managing tax dollars responsibly. Any decisions made about taxing and spending will be done with the understanding that these resources come out of the pockets of working people like you and need to go towards providing the critical services you expect to receive.

I stand firm against reckless and irresponsible spending and have always insisted that government should live within its means, the same way that we do as individuals, households and business owners.

  1. Tootie: Your approach is exactly how the government should operate. Only spend what you can afford. I have never understood why the concept of Zero Based Budgeting has never been practiced by our government.

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