As soon as she takes office in less than two weeks, incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul must do one thing: Do what Andrew Cuomo did.
No, not that. Not that either. And certainly not that!
What Hochul must do is what Cuomo did at the beginning of his tenure — act as a strong moderate leader who can get things done while serving as a check on the excesses of his own Democratic Party’s left wing and bringing Republicans on board when possible.
It’ll likely be a tougher job for Hochul than it was for Cuomo. For one, she’s not the cutthroat, authoritarian, vindictive politician he always was and recently was revealed as to those not already in the know. Also, the center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted much further to the left since Cuomo came to power. Republicans would stand further to the right today if they could, but they’re so eviscerated they’re hardly even players in the game at this point, certainly in the city, where most of the power lies.
We hope that Hochul won’t be railroaded by the more radical elements of her party into bad policies of the kind Cuomo became more supportive of as his tenure wore on, especially criminal-justice measures such as the insane bail “reform” law and job-killing tax hikes.
Cuomo, who got a vital property tax cap imposed in the suburbs very early in his tenure, this year agreed to massive spending hikes largely using federal Covid-relief money that cannot be counted on again. Hochul has to reverse course and get spending under control, no matter what the so-called progressives and actual Socialists in the Legislature want.
New York State is losing businesses, people and congressional seats to sunnier climes such as Florida and Texas, largely due to government policies. It looked early on as if Cuomo was serious about stopping the bleeding, but in the end he mostly just wasted money on flawed economic development plans that led to corruption, while hiking spending. We cannot afford that, especially as inflation quickly grows — something else Cuomo did not face when he started.
One cost-saving move could be made right here in Queens: Kill the planned AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport. That would save at least $2.1 billion — that’s the current government projection; you know it’ll be much more in the end. People from Manhattan aren’t going to go all the way to Citi Field so they can double back to LaGuardia. The airport is getting a great makeover that should help with traffic flow (one of Cuomo’s good projects), and as for alleviating congestion on the Grand Central Parkway, run dedicated express buses to the airport. There’s no need to build a counterintuitive train and harm the environment and aesthetics of the recently renamed Malcolm X Promenade on Flushing Bay. It’s not too late to stop the ill-advised project Cuomo pushed.
Nor is it too late to investigate the ill-advised activities he engaged in during the Covid crisis, as state Sen. Ron Kim of Flushing points out. Hochul should encourage the federal probe of the nursing home deaths and cover up, so we can finally get to the bottom of what Cuomo and his health commissioner did and why. She also must make sure the governor’s $5.1 million book deal is fully investigated, especially as it relates to his allegedly using state employees to work on it, for his own financial benefit. That would be a crime.
Hochul promised on Wednesday that she will be a very different governor than Cuomo, running an ethical government and fighting for the people. We hope so. She has the record of a moderate, which is promising. To succeed, and be a viable candidate for governor on her own next year, she’ll have to remain true to both her political proclivities and her principles. That’s more than her predecessor managed to do.