Governor Kathy Hochul laid out a bold vision for a new year in New York State during her first State of the State message. Due to ongoing concerns about the pandemic, the Governor spoke to only a small group of legislators, dignitaries and visitors in the Assembly Chamber as she highlighted her plan for the forthcoming year.
The Governor offered her vision for shepherding New York State through its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, noting that it is an “all-consuming crisis.” In her most ambitious proposal, Governor Hochul, the state’s first female governor, called for spending $10 billion to bolster the state’s health care work force, which has been devastated by the pandemic.
She positioned herself as a champion of good government and offered a proposal to overhaul the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) and to institute term limits for the governor and other statewide elected officials. Her package of ethics and other government reforms were meant to hold elected officials accountable and was seen as a not-so-subtle rebuke to the huge influence that former governor Andrew Cuomo amassed over his more than decade tenure in office.
Other initiatives outlined in the Governor’s address were:
- A three-part agenda for preventing and reducing gun violence;
- Investing in comprehensive infrastructure projects, largely funded by the federal government, including broadband to close the digital divide; and
- Accelerating the renewable energy economy, decarbonizing New York’s buildings, expanding electrical vehicle access and affordability and supporting wind power.
Her message launched what could be viewed as the busiest political year in New York State in a decade. Every statewide seat is open for re-election as is every congressional and legislative office. Further complicating the political environment is a legislative comprehensive redistricting process that must take place this year.
During the next several months, political insiders will be watching the following:
- Given her bold recommendations, whether true “ethics reforms” can be instituted in a political arena fraught with decades-long scandals arrests and resignations;
- Whether there will be an improvement in Albany’s relationship with New York City. During the last several years, Albany and the Mayor’s office has been largely at odds, and many will be watching to see what type of relationship takes place between the new governor and incoming New York City Mayor, Eric Adams
- How the Governor’s policy priorities will translate into this year’s Executive Budget proposals. The state is flush with cash after a one-time influx of federal money, creating intense pressure from interest groups with competing priorities
- The outcome of the 2022 gubernatorial and legislative races. New Yorkers will be watching Hochul closely to see if the State’s first female Governor becomes the 57th Governor, winning her own four-year term