Four ways Virginia can make 2022 better than 2020 or 2021
It wouldn’t take a huge leap for 2022 to be better than either of the past two years. Let’s face it, 2020 and 2021 set the bar pretty low.
In Virginia, I grant you, we dodged the tribulations of many brotherly states.
The West, especially California, has suffered fires that have left thousands homeless and charred millions of acres of forest – a hellish landscape worthy of Dante Alighieri.
Last year started with a frightening cold snap that blackened much of Texas and killed nearly 200 plus one coup attempt at the seat of the US government. It ended with monstrous tornadoes – some of the worst on record – that strafed Kentucky, Illinois, parts of Arkansas and my hometown of Tennessee, killing dozens of people.
This has been a time filled with rage and sorrow.
This is it’s time to turn the page.
In Virginia, it started on November 2. Voters spoke up and said it was time to do things differently. After Democrats exhausted their welcome after a decade of domination, Republicans won the top three statewide offices and a narrow majority in the House of Delegates – something that seemed unlikely to most at this time. era a year ago.
Here are some ways Virginia could benefit its residents over the next 12 months.
COLLABORATE MORE, OBSTRUCT LESS
This is a good idea in itself, but it should go without saying, if not intuitive, for the state government. After all, with a Democrat-led Senate capable of putting down any GOP initiative it wants for the next two years, it’s a clear choice: negotiate or deadlock.
Deadlock is not recommended. Witness how the numbers of job approvals that were healthy if not strong for President Joe Biden and a Democratic-led Congress last January collapsed. And the Democrats can only blame themselves. The infighting between moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and the party progressives that derailed Biden’s signature Rebuild better promise has done more for a faltering Republican Party than it ever could have done for itself.
Compromise may be anathema on the fringes of politics, but the November election proved that the Virginia fringes are just that. The large, moderate mass of the state voted for a measured and reasonable government that doesn’t go too far on its skis or veer madly left or right. Compromise is how you get things done, especially until the legislative mid-term of 2023, when all 40 state Senate seats and 100 delegate seats are ready for electoral renewal.
This election will be the balance sheet of what our elected leaders will accomplish so far.
PROBLEM REFORM BODIES
Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin has vowed to do just that in state agencies that raged in the dumpster fires during the second half of Gov. Ralph Northam’s tenure.
The coronavirus pandemic has provided a real stress test for public and private institutions, and some of them have failed. In the private sector, this means bankruptcies and barricaded storefronts. In the state government of Virginia, this meant that public money continued to support struggling performance, particularly in the Virginia Employment Commission and the Parole Board.
Northam and his lieutenants seemed to tolerate failure after failure, indignation after indignation, and the agency leadership remained in place.
It took a trial and a Federal judge’s order to attract the attention of the VEC, which failed to meet its benchmarks ordered by the court in November to reduce a huge backlog of claims that had been launching for months. A scathing report by the investigative arm of the General Assembly explicitly recommends that future governors and labor secretaries play a more practical role in monitoring the agency’s performance and demand better.
The parole board has already been notified. He failed to properly inform the families of murder victims that their loved ones’ killers were released in early 2020, then blocked efforts by the press and even the government to hold him accountable. Republican Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares announced shortly after ousting incumbent Democratic President Mark Herring that he would be launching a new potential misconduct investigation to the blackboard.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE
Not only the billions of dollars of $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Congress passed in November on Commonwealth Path, the state sits in biggest budget surplus in its history.
Twenty years ago, Virginia governors and legislatures would have given their right hand for an unspent balance of $ 2.6 billion and the ability to use some of it to improve congested highways and substandard bridges. of State.
There are plenty of needs vying for the state’s windfall, and Northam’s proposed farewell budget, presented two weeks ago, allocates much of that in areas he and Youngkin seem to agree to. , especially tax cuts.
There is nothing wrong with returning some of the loot to taxpayers. But one thing legislative budgetists of the past got it right: Spending one-time cash bonuses on one-time improvements like maintenance.
Credit where it belongs: the state has made significant new investments by pushing broadband internet into rural areas, giving them the potential to compete economically with the wealthiest and most populous towns and suburbs of Virginia.
But a lot of work remains to be done, especially on the state’s transport infrastructure, including bridges where failures can be catastrophic. According to a study last year According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, 577 (or 4.1%) of Virginia’s nearly 14,000 bridges were in poor condition or worse. While this represents about 35% fewer structurally deficient bridges than five years ago, the trade organization estimates that nearly 6,400 bridges are in need of repair at a total cost of about $ 10.2 billion.
The Commonwealth can significantly improve the safety of its roads now as long as it can afford it.
CONTAIN COVID: VACCINE
This should be another no-brainer. Yet 2022 begins with another tedious wave of infections from another variant of the coronavirus.
And while vaccinations are not a silver bullet, as groundbreaking cases are being reported even among those who have been fully vaccinated, it is beyond honest debate that vaccines are extremely effective in preventing serious COVID-19 disease, hospitalizations and deaths.
The coronavirus never seems to go away. Just like the flu, it will remain like a pox on humanity. But also like the flu, we can manage it and avoid the carnage of the two previous years.
As of last week, just over two-thirds of Virginia’s population were fully immunized, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. It’s the sixth best in the country and exceeds the national rate by 63 percent, according to figures from the United States Centers for Disease Control analyzed by USAFacts.org, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that collects and shares government data.
Getting buy-in from the rest of the reluctant population, however, has proven difficult in Virginia and nationally. And that is enough to give the virus a foothold to spread, mutate and remain an obstacle to the full recovery of our pre-pandemic lives.
Some resistance to “Fauci ouchie”Was politically motivated. One would imagine that some of that would decrease since former President Donald Trump, who spent much of his last year in office dismissing the severity of the disease and downplaying COVID-19 precautions, publicly endorsed the vaccinations and boosters, but even his comments were booed from the right.
Demonizing vaccination mandates as infringing on fundamental freedoms on the one hand compared to pious sermons on civic duty shared by the other miss the point and do nothing to end the pandemic.
Can we drop the controversy and see this for what it is: an opportunity within our grasp?
At the end of 2019, when an unprepared world just glimpsed the misery this new pathogen would cause, we placed our hopes for deliverance on science and a vaccine. Science delivered.
Vaccines remain our best hope; our ticket to a better 2022 and beyond.