ALBANY, N.Y. — In her first address to the state, New York's 57th and first female governor wasted no time letting the state's 20 million residents know who she is and what she stands for.
Kathy Hochul started out by sharing with New Yorkers the lessons and values instilled by her immigrant grandparents and parents over the years and how they shaped the person she is today.
Then the new governor, who has said one of the hallmarks of her leadership would be brevity, immediately launched into her three top priorities in the coming days.
First, COVID-19 and the Delta variant. Hochul said the state must get children back in school, calling for teachers and staff to be vaccinated, with a weekly testing option for now and for universal masking. Hochul said more details on that would be released in the coming days.
Her second priority is to increase vaccination rates for New Yorkers, telling them to expect new vaccine requirements with more information to come.
Next Hochul wants to make sure the state is prepared for the rollout of COVID-19 booster shots, saying she would reconsider reopening mass vaccination sites.
The new governor also said she is not satisfied with the pace of COVID relief money getting into the hands of New Yorkers, especially for those who cannot pay their rent due to the pandemic. "If you apply, and you qualify you will not be evicted for one year."
Hochul also stressed another hallmark of her administration would be transparency. "We will focus on open, ethical governing that New Yorkers will trust. I will direct State entities to review their compliance with state transparency laws, and provide a public report on their findings."
"I have instructed my counsel to come up with an expedited process to fulfill all FOIL requests as fast as possible—and post completed requests publicly online. I will sign an Executive Order requiring ethics training for every employee of the New York State government—which, shockingly, is not required across the board."
Hochul is calling for an overhaul of ethics and sexual harassment training, calling for all training for state employees to be taken live, saying taped sessions are too easy to click through.
In closing, Hochul said for those who don't know her yet, they'll find her direct, straight talking and decisive. "I will not be deterred, and I'm willing to be bloodied and marred in the pursuit of doing what's right for the people of this great State."