6 Issues Kathy Hochul Will Face as New York Governor


In lower than two weeks, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will grow to be the subsequent governor of New York, amid a interval of outstanding tumult and uncertainty.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who held workplace for greater than a decade and saved tight management over the state’s Democratic Get together, is resigning after a report by New York’s lawyer basic discovered he had sexually harassed practically a dozen ladies.

On the similar time, the coronavirus pandemic is surging anew, elevating thorny questions on public well being, faculty security and the way greatest to handle New York’s precarious path towards financial restoration.

On Thursday, Ms. Hochul confirmed that she would search a full time period as governor in November 2022, so she can be tackling the state’s urgent points whereas working a marketing campaign in what might be a hotly contested election.

Bob Megna, president of the Rockefeller Institute of Authorities, an Albany-based assume tank, mentioned that he believed Ms. Hochul was nicely poised to sort out New York’s many challenges.

“She’s not new to the political setting, she’s not new to the coverage setting and she or he has expertise on the federal and native degree, which lots of people don’t have,” he mentioned.

Listed below are a number of the high points dealing with Ms. Hochul.

Ms. Hochul should take care of a troubling uptick in coronavirus instances and hospitalizations, fueled by the extremely contagious Delta variant. On Wednesday, the seven-day common of recent infections in New York State was 3,715, up from a low level of 307 on June 26, based on a New York Occasions database. Hospitalizations rose to 1,559 from 823 over the identical interval.

The development signifies that Ms. Hochul might must make tough selections on how one can reply, together with whether or not to pursue new state steerage to encourage extra mask-wearing or implement vaccine mandates in locations like nursing houses.

At a information convention on Wednesday, she mentioned she would use the subsequent two weeks to seek the advice of with consultants and federal well being authorities. She mentioned one focus could be to extend the tempo of vaccinations — lower than 60 p.c of New Yorkers have been totally vaccinated.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the chairman of the Meeting’s well being committee, mentioned that beneath Mr. Cuomo, a “giant half” of well being coverage throughout the pandemic was determined by a small group of aides. He mentioned he thought that might change in a Hochul administration.

“It’s possible you’ll very nicely have completely different voices play a key position and that may have important public coverage penalties,” he mentioned.

Ms. Hochul may also must resolve how one can work with New York Metropolis on a pandemic response. Mr. Cuomo had typically been at odds with metropolis officers: he blocked Mayor Invoice de Blasio’s concept for a shelter in place order final March, for instance.

Ms. Hochul takes workplace amid important upheaval over state measures meant to maintain tenants from being evicted throughout the pandemic.

Lower than three weeks earlier than a state moratorium on evictions was set to run out, the US Supreme Court docket struck down the supply on Thursday, clearing the best way for 1000’s of eviction instances to maneuver ahead.

Tenants should still be shielded from eviction beneath different measures. A brand new federal eviction moratorium is in place till Oct. 3, however that measure has not prevented some evictions in different components of the nation. One other state regulation additionally retains some tenants from being evicted as a result of they couldn’t pay hire throughout the pandemic, however doesn’t stop fits from being filed, or tenants from being evicted for different causes.

The court docket’s ruling, which stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a number of small landlords and a landlord group, stoked fears that 1000’s of New Yorkers might lose their houses.

Whereas many landlord teams praised the ruling for permitting them to problem instances the place a tenant might have been improperly not paying hire and abusing the moratorium, the ruling additionally prompted calls from housing advocates for a brand new moratorium, which must be accredited by the Legislature and signed by the governor.

After the ruling, Ms. Hochul mentioned in a press release that she would work with state lawmakers to “rapidly deal with the Supreme Court docket’s determination and strengthen the eviction moratorium laws.”

“No New Yorker who has been financially hit or displaced by the pandemic needs to be compelled out of their residence,” she mentioned.

The ruling additionally locations extra scrutiny on New York’s hire reduction program, which Ms. Hochul will now inherit. This system has gotten off to a sluggish begin, leaving many renters and landlords more and more anxious and annoyed.

As of Tuesday, the state had distributed about $100 million in support to roughly 7,000 households, totaling lower than four p.c of the $2.7 billion in out there funds for this system. Renters and landlords proceed to report errors and glitches within the software system.

Michael P. Hein, the commissioner of the state company that runs this system, testified at an Meeting listening to this week that he had not spoken to Mr. Cuomo about this system, although he had saved in contact with others within the administration.

Ms. Hochul will assume management of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates a community of subways, buses and two commuter trains, as it’s dealing with a extreme disaster.

The M.T.A. has misplaced about half of its riders for the reason that pandemic began. The subways are carrying about 2.5 million riders every weekday, down from greater than 5.5 million in 2019. On the commuter railroads — the Lengthy Island Rail Street and Metro-North — ridership is down about 60 p.c. A fare enhance scheduled for this fall was postponed in hopes of luring again extra riders.

The drop in passengers and an exodus of employees led the M.T.A. to make service cuts, a few of which it has not but restored. A gusher of emergency federal support — $14.5 billion in all — has bolstered the authority towards an enormous working deficit. But it surely might face a finances hole as quickly as 2025, based on the Residents Price range Fee, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog.

Ms. Hochul additionally should establish a supply of funding for one of many largest public-works tasks within the nation: the Gateway program to construct a second rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River connecting to Pennsylvania Station. The tunnel alone is projected to price $11.6 billion, half of which is meant to return from New York and New Jersey.

Although Mr. Cuomo incessantly contradicted Mr. de Blasio on choices associated to varsities throughout the pandemic, the governor was conspicuously absent from the precise work of figuring out how one can open lecture rooms final summer season and fall.

Final week, as Mr. Cuomo’s administration was engulfed in disaster, the well being commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, introduced that the state well being division wouldn’t launch steerage to high school districts on how one can reopen their buildings this fall, prompting outrage from senior schooling officers.

Ms. Hochul might play a bigger position than her predecessor in serving to the state’s roughly 700 districts make choices on masking, testing, quarantining and different security measures.

She signaled on Thursday that her well being division would mandate mask-wearing in faculties. Most of the state’s districts, together with New York Metropolis, have already got such mandates in place.

Ms. Hochul may also must resolve if she desires to pursue necessary vaccination for all lecturers and faculty employees, which might be the primary statewide edict within the nation.

For now, districts must give you their very own guidelines on vaccines. New York Metropolis, for instance, has already mentioned all lecturers should be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.

Ms. Hochul should resolve whether or not to hurry up a plan to deliver congestion pricing to New York Metropolis.

The coverage, which might cost tolls to drivers getting into the busiest components of Manhattan, was accredited by lawmakers in 2019 at Mr. Cuomo’s urging, and over the objections of drivers from suburbs and different areas outdoors of Manhattan.

It’s anticipated to generate $1 billion a 12 months, which might be used to safe $15 billion in funding for different transit tasks, together with modernizing the subway system, though the cash just isn’t tied to any particular tasks but.

However the congestion pricing coverage has been delayed, with critics suggesting that Mr. Cuomo didn’t need to alienate suburban voters as he thought of a re-election bid subsequent 12 months. The governor successfully controls the M.T.A., which is implementing congestion pricing.

With Ms. Hochul saying on Thursday that she plans to run for governor subsequent 12 months, she may also must weigh the political prices of supporting congestion pricing, which might affect the pace of its implementation.

State lawmakers adopted a $2.1 billion fund within the spring that might supply one-time funds of as much as $15,600 to undocumented employees who misplaced work because of the pandemic and had been excluded from different forms of authorities support.

The Excluded Employees Fund, by far the largest of its variety within the nation, was hailed by progressive Democrats. However lawmakers and organizers who pushed for the fund mentioned that it confronted opposition from Mr. Cuomo, who sought measures to forestall fraud and abuse of this system.

Now, advocates for employees worry that newly introduced necessities — together with exhibiting proof of a 50 p.c loss in revenue — might stop 1000’s of eligible employees from receiving funds, and so they hope Ms. Hochul will push to vary that.

The advocates say that day laborers and home employees who receives a commission in money, for instance, might not be capable of simply doc their misplaced earnings.

“The necessities are way more restrictive than these for typical profit packages, like unemployment,” mentioned Angeles Solis, a organizer at Make the Street New York, who helped lead a coalition of teams to advocate for the fund.

The employees are nonetheless scuffling with poverty, starvation and debt because of the pandemic, she mentioned, together with 1000’s of undocumented ladies.

“The principal impediment has been Governor Cuomo, so we’re hopeful that Kathy Hochul will actually step up,” mentioned Ms. Solis, including, “Kathy Hochul has spent her profession defending the rights of ladies within the office.”

Lawmakers and organizers are calling on the brand new governor and the state labor commissioner to drop the restrictions to use, and to offer a hotline and in-person consultations with candidates. In any other case, Ms. Solis mentioned, “it’s set as much as fail.”


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