At this writing the declaration from President Biden’s first State of the Union address (SOTU) still echoes: “the State of the Union is strong,” he said. “We are stronger today than we were a year ago,” he continued, “(a)nd we will be stronger a year from now than we are today.”
What a relief to receive such reassurance after the four years of chaos and tumult of the previous administration.
Consider the resolute response to Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked attack on Ukraine to gauge how much success President Biden’s administration has had. Member nations of the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and successful democracies around the world – including even Switzerland – are united to stymie Russia’s aggression and impose harsh consequences for it.
President Biden choreographed this extraordinary international effort and restored the United States as the leader of the free world; the previous administration belittled the EU, threatened to withdraw from NATO, and openly admired Russia’s maniacal, autocratic leader, Vladamir Putin.
In his SOTU President Biden summarized additional accomplishments of his first year. The American Rescue Plan – passed without a single Republican vote – pulled the nation up from the devastating impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. The resulting 5.7 percent economic growth is the strongest in nearly 40 years, and the 6.5 million new jobs generated are more than in any other year in American history. 678,000 more jobs were just added to that total in February.
Relentless pursuit of a comprehensive public health agenda now has 75 percent of adult Americans fully vaccinated, with hospitalizations down by 77 percent as a result. Tests, vaccines, treatments, and mask use are cited as reasons for so much progress; one is left to imagine an even quicker turnaround had testing, vaccinations, and personal responsibility not been vilified in a culture war orchestrated by those trying to discredit sound science.
Americans are well-served by a Democratic administration working to shore up the sanctity of truth, the rule of law, and across-the-board prosperity.
Woodbridge residents are similarly fortunate to have experienced, responsible, Democratic leadership steering the (local) ship of state. The Town’s budget process is entering its final phase and I find it curious: virtually all those instigated by the Woodbridge Republican Town Committee last year to protest a budget increase were absent from this year’s many budget hearings, despite repeated invitations and reminders to participate.
That said, Town leaders once again face challenges on both sides of the budget. Potential spending increases are driven by immodestly higher funding requests from the two boards of education. As an aside, that’s curious too, since each board is led by a Republican. Nevertheless, it will be literally impossible to balance the budget on the spending side, especially with those large requested increases in education – always about 2/3 of the budget total.
So, in terms of revenue, putting aside personal opinions about any specific proposal, the Board of Selectmen is duty-bound to pursue and consider opportunities to expand the grand list as the best way to keep the mill rate in check. Unless and until state law and policies change, local governments in Connecticut will be revenue-dependent upon property taxes generated within their jurisdiction.
I find it frustrating to hear and read the constant bleating of those who decry the spending increases and flat revenue that lead to larger budgets and higher taxes while they offer no meaningful suggestions for reduced spending, condemn any effort to enhance the grand list, and repeatedly fail to participate in the months-long budget development process.
I’m grateful for the responsible leadership in both Washington and Woodbridge that takes governing seriously, that works earnestly to address the many, often conflicting needs of those they serve, and does so despite the heckling, the manipulation, and the incessant negativity to which they are subjected at virtually every turn.