Stimulus, Stimulus, stimulus. Every television news story in the last month seems to come directly from some aspect of the congressional stimulus bill.

It seems to me that we have moved from an economic atmosphere of general apprehension to one of outright fear. It’s a fear that seems to feed on itself. And that fear has caused many questions about county government.

Nearly everywhere I go people are asking about what the county’s plans are, will services and jobs be cut, and will property taxes roll back. On these issues I can only speak for myself, as I am just one voice out of nine on the legislature.

When voting on spending your tax dollars I have tried very hard to adhere to a general philosophy of government and not make decisions based on emotion. That philosophy has always been that pure government functions should always take priority over more discretionary ones. This is easy to see in practice. The Sheriff’s department is absolutely needed every day of the year; parades and fairs are not. Prosecutors and jails are must be funded, but maybe a particular road could wait a year on resurfacing, or a county vehicle could be stretched for use for another year.

Over my two years (three budgets), we have been faced with balancing competing demands for funding over and over again. Often each side of an argument has some good points to be made as to why they should be fully funded. And just as often I find myself I disagreeing with their assessments. Sometimes my view prevails, sometimes it does not.

What this all brings me to is this – I believe county government will make whatever hard choices are needed to maintain a balanced budget while still providing essential services. The good news is that even with the cuts of the last two years, there has been no noticeable reduction in service levels. It is my hope to keep it that way.

However, the downward spiral of the economy means more and more votes that are “no” are necessary to keep our budget balanced, and not just from me, but also from all legislators.