Republicans, Suozzi criticize Hochul’s State of the State address

Republicans, Suozzi criticize Hochul’s State of the State address

Gov. Kathy Hochul. File photo by Julianne Mosher

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) delivered her first State of the State address on Jan. 5. The governor outlined nine key points as part of what she called her New Era for New York plan.

During the address, she said the focus was on rebuilding the state’s health care economy; protecting public safety and addressing gun violence; investing in New York’s people; investing in the state’s communities; making New York’s housing system more affordable, equitable and stable; making the state a national leader in climate action and green jobs; rebuilding New York’s teacher workforce and reimagining higher education; advancing the state’s place as a national equity model; and making critical reforms to restore New Yorkers’ faith in their government.

“As the first woman to present a State of the State address in New York, I want to make it clear I am not just here to make history — I am here to make a difference,” Hochul said. “The time has come for a new American Dream. Today, we start building a better, fairer, more inclusive version that I call the New York Dream. We will create a ‘new era for New York’ by embarking on a bold, far-reaching policy agenda that advances our recovery and restores New Yorkers’ trust in government. And through all of this, I will continue to collaborate with others and deliver results for New Yorkers.”

 Critics

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1), the presumptive Republican candidate in the 2022 governor’s race, posted a rebuttal on YouTube after Hochul’s address. Zeldin criticized “the Cuomo-Hochul administration” for “punishing taxes and a skyrocketing cost of living, out-of-control crime, suffocating attacks on our freedom and unending scandals” that he said “have resulted in New York leading the nation in residents fleeing.”

“Unfortunately, our current governor, Kathy Hochul, and one-party rule in Albany have continued the attacks on your wallets, safety, freedoms and kids’ education,” the congressman said.

Zeldin also asked why Hochul didn’t provide details about her plan to tackle rising crime. He criticized her talk about term limits that he said “were far behind the curve” and said she was following where the “political winds blow.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) posted remarks to YouTube before the address. Suozzi is set to run in the Democratic primaries for governor against Hochul. In the beginning of the video, he said, “The state of our state is dismal.”

In a statement after the address, Suozzi said, “The governor today said she wanted a ‘new era for New York,’ yet she ducked fixing the bail crisis that is helping fuel crime, failed to fix the chaos due to her lack of a COVID plan, and won’t stop the pay-to-play mess that corrupts Albany. New York needs a common sense governor who has executive experience to manage COVID, take on crime, reduce taxes and help troubled schools.”

New York State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) sent out a statement after Hochul’s address also criticizing the governor.

“New York must move forward with a plan of recovery from COVID-19,” Fitzpatrick said. “Gov. Hochul has been reluctant to make progress on this issue, despite broad access to vaccines for those who want it. New York must find a way to begin living with the ongoing reality of this virus without hampering the livelihoods of residents, the education of children and the overall health of our economy. Residents are counting on our leadership to forge a path forward.”

State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) issued a statement in response to the State of the State address. The senator complimented Hochul for the “welcomed change from the PowerPoint slides and oversized podiums of the previous administration. Her speech and its location were clearly meant to show a break from the past and a new leadership approach to meet New York’s myriad challenges.”

However, Palumbo said he was concerned that few of the positive proposals in the address “will create the systemic change needed to meet today’s challenges faced by my constituents in the 1st Senate District.”

“The hard fact is New York state continues to lead the nation in outmigration,” he said. “The cost of homes and property taxes in our region continue to rise. State and fuel taxes are up. The crime rate continues to grow and families I represent do not feel safe. Our electric rates are some of the highest in the country. The economy has been further crippled by the pandemic, and our hospitals and nursing homes are struggling. With record levels of state and federal spending, our region of the state is simply not seeing its fair share of funding allowing our economy to recover.”

Palumbo challenged Hochul and legislative majorities to revisit policies he called “unworkable and detrimental.”

Some highlights from the State of the State address:

Health care over the course of five years

  • Grow health care workforce by 20%
  • $10 billion invested in the sector
  • $4 billion of $10 billion to be used for wages and bonuses of health care workers

Preventing and reducing gun violence and violent crimes

  • Provide state and local law enforcement with tools necessary to keep residents safe from gun violence
  • Invest in public safety and fund state and local policing gun safety efforts
  • Create an interstate Gun Tracing Consortium
  • Invest in community-based gun violence response

Invest in residents

  • Accelerate the phase-in of $1.2 billion in middle-class tax cuts for 6 million New Yorkers by two years to 2023
  • Establish a $1 billion property tax rebate program
  • Tax rebate for 2 million New York families
  • Increase existing tax credits and create new ones to support food production
  • $100 million in tax relief for 195,000 small businesses across New York state

Develop job opportunities

  • Create the Office of Workforce and Economic Development and Jails to Jobs program

Boost investment in offshore wind infrastructure by $500 million

Limit governors,  lieutenant governors, attorney generals and comptrollers to two consecutive four-year terms.

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