New York State is in crisis mode. We are losing more residents to other states than any other state in the nation. It’s due to a number of factors, but mostly the high cost of living, the high taxes, and the high crime rate.
The state Legislature, which once had a healthy balance between a Democratic Assembly and a Long Island-dominated Republican Senate is now almost totally controlled by the progressive left wing. Governor Kathy Hochul, who billed herself as a moderate to conservative Democratic local elected official, has since shifted more and more toward the left to placate the growing progressive segment in New York.
The question is whether she recognizes the problems we are facing and has the plan and the will to fix them. Based on her speech last week, this is what we see.
The governor gets it that high housing costs are a major factor in people leaving Long Island and the way to fix it is to increase supply. But developers won’t build more affordable housing in the city unless the tax incentives to encourage it are extended. Unfortunately, the state Legislature let them expire. Hochul is pushing to renew them and that’s a good thing.
In the suburbs, she understands that locals seek to balance more housing with environmental and traffic concerns and an aversion to too much density. On the other hand, some of these localities are overly strict in allowing for the needed housing for our next generation. Hochul had an abysmal plan last year that would have superseded local zoning. It led to a huge outcry and she backed off. This year, she is more wisely seeking monetary incentives to those municipalities that promote affordable housing.
The backlog in the New York court system is tremendous. It can take eight years to get a common civil matter resolved. The state constitution limits the number of Supreme Court justices and the governor has wisely called for a constitutional amendment to lift that cap. This is long overdue and urgently needed.
Crime and homelessness
Well, the mayor at least sounded as though she cared, throwing in anecdotal concerns about young people being scared to ride the subways and residents fed up seeing deodorant at the CVS locked behind the cabinet. Beyond the rhetoric, however, there was no realistic plan.
The idea that we are going to stop the rapid rise in shoplifting by giving incentives for businesses to hire more security is laughable. We have all seen the videos of these low-level security guards standing helplessly as waves of shoplifters swarm a store and walk out with garbage bags filled with stolen goods. And when the security guards try to intervene, we see, more often than not, that they are fired by their employers, or worse yet, prosecuted by the rogue DAs. What good will come from the hiring of more of these guards if they’re not backed up for doing their jobs?
The governor could have mentioned support for legislation that would make it easier to charge the shoplifters with felonies. Right now, the amount stolen has to hit a certain monetary level, but what about the serial shoplifter who is doing this time and time again? The amount should be cumulative so, once they hit a certain monetary level of stolen merchandise over the course of a period of time, a felony would kick in.
The governor deflects from the core problems related to fighting crime by seeking to expand the number of crimes that could be considered hate crimes. This is a feel-good measure that is a virtue signal to the radical left wing, but does nothing to address the erratic violence that is occurring on our streets and subways. She could push for a change to the bail laws to allow judges in New York to consider a defendant’s violent propensities, as is the case in all the other 49 states. She could also reverse the reforms of 2019 that require prosecutors to hand over an inordinate amount of materials in a short 20-day window, which is so burdensome that it has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of cases filed or going to trial.
Last year, Governor Hochul put up a pretty decent fight to get more charges, but, in the end, she had to back down to the progressives and get just a trickle. She could fight for more this year, but it doesn’t look like she will.
While the governor sounded a sweet tone on constructing more housing, she laid an egg by suddenly lending support to the insidious concept of good-faith evictions. Her reversal in now supporting this dangerous bill is of cataclysmic importance, yet nearly ignored by the media.
This bill would not only impose rent control statewide, but would eviscerate a landowner’s control over his own building. The tenant would have a lifetime right to remain in the abode as long as he continues to pay the rent. The homeowner would not be able to ask the tenant to leave at the expiration of the lease either because they were rude or he wanted to make room for one of his family members. Talk about an unconstitutional infringement on a property owner’s rights!
Getting more affordable housing is not worth the price the governor must pay to the progressives. On another note, it’s hard to understand how our supply of housing could be expanded while the state welcomes in hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. People coming here illegally are not only becoming a charge to the taxpayer of up to $12 billion over the next few years, but they have to live somewhere. They are crowding out units for our young and working-class people.
This brings us to the government’s refusal to address the illegal immigration crisis. Her only involvement has been wisely saying no to Mayor Adams’ request to have other counties around the state take the excess of the illegal immigration flow that came to New York City, thanks to Adams welcoming them through his sanctuary city policies. Other than that, however, Hochul has done nothing to stem the tide. He refuses to call out the president to reverse his open border policy and reinstate the Remain in Mexico policy that had worked so well for his predecessor in controlling the border.
Taxes and spending
Historians will one day look back at how remarkable it was that New York State, like others around the nation, received enormous sums of federal aid during the pandemic that they could spend almost unconditionally. Who would’ve thought that, a short time later, the state would be running a $4 billion deficit? But that’s what happens when crazy leftists are left in charge and spend any dollar they possibly can with reckless abandon.
A New York State budget — already in the stratosphere at $170 billion in 2019 — has ballooned incredibly to $220 billion today. A strong, fiscally conservative executive would say enough. The pandemic is over, and it’s time to bring us down to normal levels of spending. But, no! The governor is teaming up with the state Legislature to stay at this new, artificially inflated base and consider it the new normal.
The governor continues to wisely oppose progressive efforts to tax wage earners in New York even more. The top one percent of income earners contribute over 40% of the government coffers. Raising taxes on them again will not get you more revenue; it will incentivize them to further flee for cheaper pastures. However, the governor is nickel-and-diming middle-class taxpayers in many other ways. One was the MTA tax that she sought to impose on every business in the metropolitan area. Fortunately, that was cut back for Long Island businesses, but the mindset is there. Then there is congestion pricing that she was totally behind which will clobber the middle class.
The governor noticed that too many mentally ill people are roaming the streets, but we’ve seen no plan to get them off the streets. Will she promote legislation that will make it easier to confine the violent mentally ill? If not, it seems like just rhetoric to us.
Whenever it comes to education, the governor believes all she has to do is say that we will give even more money to our schools. But we know already from decades of throwing bad money after good that additional expenditures have done nothing to stem the declines in test scores. The governor should be stepping in to fight the Board of Regents in its quest to lower standards by eliminating Regents exams and lowering passing test scores.
The idea of making the Regents optional is pure folly. It’s an attempt for the teachers unions to deflect from the fact that student performance continues to decline, despite more and more money being funneled into K-12 education.
Hypocrisy in protecting youth
The governor is once again virtue signaling about her desire to protect our state’s youth from nefarious outside sources. She’s teamed up once again with New York State Attorney General Letitia James to do so. They are calling for oversight and regulation of social media outlets’ interaction with minors. We think this is incredibly hypocritical since the attorney general is one of the main forces behind a radical new curriculum in our K-12 schools that have been promoting pornographic, age-inappropriate books to be made accessible to our young people. So according to James and Hochul, having inappropriate materials to minors on the Internet is bad, but allowing it in hardcover to a library book is perfectly fine.