Gov. Kathy Hochul kept her maiden State of the State address short and sweet. Cuomo-esque, thankfully, it was not.
Alas, it also failed to show that she’s on top of the key issues dogging New York.
Parts of her speech sounded like a love note to Mayor Eric Adams, with several references to her “partnership with New York City.” That’s a refreshing break from the last eight years of Andrew Cuomo-Bill de Blasio sparring.
Yet her supposedly bold vision came off as a laundry list of items meant to please select constituencies.
For homeowners and the business community, she offered some property-tax relief and coronavirus-related tax credits — and a plan to reinstate the popular “Drinks-to-Go” option for struggling bars and restaurants. All fine. But her other ideas included the usual liberal goodies for special interests: health-care, education and “green” initiatives, for example, and opening up government contracting for minority- and women-owned businesses.
Too bad she never said how she’d pay for it all — except, that is, when she called on voters to authorize an additional $4 billion environmental bond act. (More spending, more taxes. Of course!)
Nor did she talk much of her unpopular COVID-19 mandates or give any clue as to when they might be lifted so life for New Yorkers can get back to normal.
To her credit, she did take note of the population exodus that occurred during the pandemic and vowed to give those who fled reason to return, pledging to create the “most business-friendly and worker-friendly state in the nation.” Hmm: We’ll see.
At the same time, she was largely silent on meaningful steps to rein in one major source of that outward flight: the surge in crime. Indeed, she completely steered clear of the controversial no-bail and criminal-justice reforms enacted under Cuomo, offering instead new “jails-to-jobs” and prison-education programs and stepping up illegal-gun tracing. As for locking away bad guys: crickets.
One other good sign: She wants to scrap the state’s farcical ethics panel, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, though she offered no details on what she’d create in its place.
Yes, on balance, it could’ve been worse: She’s running for governor and facing pressure from radical progressives in the Democratic Party but kept her promises to them to a minimum. It’ll be the actions she takes soon, though, that will tell just how responsible a gov she plans to be.