Gov. Kathy Hochul, elected to a full term, has four years to make her mark on New York
Now that Kathy Hochul has won the governor’s seat in her own right, what will her full term in office look like? The governor has offered some hints, but not a lot of details.
In her campaign, Hochul emphasized protecting abortion rights and highlighted how her opponent, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election.
But she didn’t lay out a detailed plan of what she will do when she continues leading the state in 2023.
Hochul, in her election night victory speech, said she hopes to deliver more job opportunities like the recently announced Micron Technology deal in Syracuse, which supporters say could create up to 50,000 new jobs.
“We’ll build a state where families can afford to raise their children,” said Hochul, who promised “good-paying jobs” from Long Island and New York City and through upstate all the way to Buffalo.
Hochul also said she wants to create more affordable housing and to act to bring down violent crime.
“To have the safety to walk the streets and take our subways, without illegal guns on our streets,” she said.
Hochul and the State Legislature may have to revisit one of the governor’s signature pieces of legislation. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s 100-year-old law regulating the carrying of concealed weapons, the governor and Legislature quickly approved a new statute that also set new requirements for obtaining a pistol permit. But a federal judge overturned key provisions of that law.
Zeldin made repealing the state’s 2019 bail reform law – which ended many forms of cash bail – a centerpiece of his campaign. Hochul convinced the Legislature in April to make tweaks to the law, making some crimes bail-eligible once again, and giving judges more discretion on whether to hold a defendant before trial. But she does not support rescinding the law.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan leads a city that, like many cities in New York, is dealing with an increase in gun-related violence. She said Democrats, including Hochul, need to do more going forward to address the public’s concerns about crime.
But she said the Republicans gained ground on the issue during the campaigns not by offering a comprehensive plan but by trying to scare people.
“When people peddle fear, it is really demoralizing, and it can suppress the vote,” said Sheehan, a Democrat. “And I think we have to punch back on fear.”
Hochul will have to issue a budget plan in a couple of months. The economic downturn and inflation could disrupt the plan, which was balanced when it was enacted last April.
More will be known about the state’s finances when the governor’s budget office releases its mid-year report. The report under state law was due by Oct. 31, but Hochul, speaking a few days before the elections, said her analysts needed more time to work on it.
“Historically, it’s been out in November,” Hochul said. “It’s really important to get that message out as soon as we can. So we’re working on it.”
The governor has not yet acted on a bill passed by the Legislature to impose a two-year moratorium on some energy-intensive forms of cryptocurrency mining that use repurposed older power plants for electricity. Environmentalists are urging that she sign it. Liz Moran with Earthjustice said the measure would help the state meet its goals to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.
“It’s a straightforward piece of legislation,” Moran said.
The bitcoin industry and some unions are against the moratorium, saying it would prevent New York from creating more jobs in the industry. The governor has so far been noncommittal about whether she will sign or veto the measure.
Hochul has not said much about her plans for education, although she approved a budget that increased school aid. During a debate on Spectrum News, she said that she backs raising the state’s cap on the number of charter schools that can operate in New York, a position that may cause conflict with the state and New York City teachers unions. She has not ruled out reimposing health-related mandates on schools if cases of COVID-19 intensify, or if a new, stronger variant emerges.
And finally, Hochul will need to appoint a new chief judge to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, after Janet DiFiore resigned at the end of the summer. The governor, with four years ahead of her now, has her chance to make her mark on the court, as well as all other aspects of state government.