New York's first female chief executive visited NewsdayTV studios for an exclusive discussion on affordable housing, taxes and more about Long Island with NewsdayTV's Joye Brown.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday defended some of her key budget proposals, including a plan to increase housing construction on Long Island and raise an MTA commuter tax.

In a NewsdayTV interview with Newsday columnist Joye Brown in Melville, Hochul portrayed herself as a moderate Democrat, declaring she's “a progressive" but "not a socialist.”

She also expressed no regret about having nominated Hector LaSalle, an appellate judge and former Suffolk County prosecutor from East Northport, to head the state's top court. The State Senate voted down the nomination last week.

In the interview, Hochul sought to calm worries that her plan to encourage and in some instances  require municipalities to increase their residential stock would lead to the state overriding local zoning and planning boards.

“This is a pro-Long Island initiative to make sure that we offer a whole panoply of housing,” she said.

The lack of affordable housing on Long Island is driving away young people and preventing other people from moving here for new jobs because it’s too expensive, Hochul said.

“We’ve only had such a small growth compared to other regions that people are leaving here,” she said.

Zoning boards and other entities that could allow housing growth, “have been ground to a halt, and we’re not building the housing for our families, our workers and our senior citizens.”

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) rejected Hochul’s plan as “irresponsible” and said if fully implemented could triple the amount of housing in Nassau County — which he contended is already congested enough.

“I think she’s clearly out of touch,” Martins told Newsday Thursday.

Hochul also defended her plan to increase the top tax rate on a payroll tax that is paid by some employers in the 12-county region serviced by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 

She argued that the increase is relatively small — rising from 0.35% to 0.5% — and that it should be more than offset by state education aid that should bring down school taxes.

“The MTA is literally on the cusp of looking down on a fiscal cliff,” she said. “This is not a tax directly on Long Islanders. This is saying, ‘Long Islanders, we don’t want you to have to have a fare increase or a reduction in service.’”

She said the MTA is facing major budget problems largely because ridership is still only about 65% of what it was before the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020.

“This payroll mobility tax is part of a larger story of everybody having to share in the pain,” she said.

Martins said the increased tax “simply doesn’t make sense,” and that the MTA should undergo an audit.

“It’s about time we held the MTA accountable,” he said.

Hochul rejected a suggestion that her housing and MTA tax proposals are aimed at punishing Nassau and Suffolk counties because the region voted for her Republican opponent, former Rep. Lee Zeldin, of Shirley, in last year’s gubernatorial race.

“That is so ridiculous,” Hochul said, extolling the “beautiful” beaches, farms and wineries of Long Island, along with its biotechnology centers in Cold Spring Harbor, Stony Brook and Brookhaven.

“It’s a fabulous place,” Hochul said.

She defended her choice of LaSalle to lead the state’s highest court even though the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected him. It was the first time the Senate had rejected a governor’s pick for chief judge.

“That was very disappointing. Hector LaSalle was enormously qualified,” she said. “People hijacked a couple of cases, misinterpreted them, and spread falsehoods about his record.”

“I won’t change my approach,” she added. “I want to make sure that people have experience, who are excellent jurists, who have a record that we can be proud of.”

Hochul also stressed her support for law enforcement. Hochul noted her husband was a prosecutor for 30 years and said she wants more funding for police.

“For us to think that I would demonize police … that’s an absolute falsehood,” she said.

Beyond that, she said she supports progressive causes such as abortion rights, LGBTQ rights and health care for all.

“I am a moderate Democrat,” she said. “I have these progressive values but not socialist values. There’s a difference. I am a progressive. I’m not a socialist.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday defended some of her key budget proposals, including a plan to increase housing construction on Long Island and raise an MTA commuter tax.

In a NewsdayTV interview with Newsday columnist Joye Brown in Melville, Hochul portrayed herself as a moderate Democrat, declaring she's “a progressive" but "not a socialist.”

She also expressed no regret about having nominated Hector LaSalle, an appellate judge and former Suffolk County prosecutor from East Northport, to head the state's top court. The State Senate voted down the nomination last week.

In the interview, Hochul sought to calm worries that her plan to encourage and in some instances  require municipalities to increase their residential stock would lead to the state overriding local zoning and planning boards.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday defended some of her key budget proposals in a NewsdayTV interview with columnist Joye Brown.
  • Hochul defended her plans to boost the housing stock and shore up MTA finances.
  • Hochul portrayed herself as a moderate Democrat, declaring she's “a progressive" but "not a socialist.”

Defends "pro-Long Island" initiatives

“This is a pro-Long Island initiative to make sure that we offer a whole panoply of housing,” she said.

The lack of affordable housing on Long Island is driving away young people and preventing other people from moving here for new jobs because it’s too expensive, Hochul said.

“We’ve only had such a small growth compared to other regions that people are leaving here,” she said.

Zoning boards and other entities that could allow housing growth, “have been ground to a halt, and we’re not building the housing for our families, our workers and our senior citizens.”

N.Y.'s chief executive sat down with NewsdayTV's Joye Brown to talk about issues important to Long Islanders. NewsdayTV’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday/Staff

GOP lawmaker: Housing plan "irresponsible"

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) rejected Hochul’s plan as “irresponsible” and said if fully implemented could triple the amount of housing in Nassau County — which he contended is already congested enough.

“I think she’s clearly out of touch,” Martins told Newsday Thursday.

Hochul also defended her plan to increase the top tax rate on a payroll tax that is paid by some employers in the 12-county region serviced by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 

She argued that the increase is relatively small — rising from 0.35% to 0.5% — and that it should be more than offset by state education aid that should bring down school taxes.

“The MTA is literally on the cusp of looking down on a fiscal cliff,” she said. “This is not a tax directly on Long Islanders. This is saying, ‘Long Islanders, we don’t want you to have to have a fare increase or a reduction in service.’”

She said the MTA is facing major budget problems largely because ridership is still only about 65% of what it was before the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020.

“This payroll mobility tax is part of a larger story of everybody having to share in the pain,” she said.

Martins said the increased tax “simply doesn’t make sense,” and that the MTA should undergo an audit.

“It’s about time we held the MTA accountable,” he said.

Hochul rejected a suggestion that her housing and MTA tax proposals are aimed at punishing Nassau and Suffolk counties because the region voted for her Republican opponent, former Rep. Lee Zeldin, of Shirley, in last year’s gubernatorial race.

“That is so ridiculous,” Hochul said, extolling the “beautiful” beaches, farms and wineries of Long Island, along with its biotechnology centers in Cold Spring Harbor, Stony Brook and Brookhaven.

“It’s a fabulous place,” Hochul said.

Defends high court choice

She defended her choice of LaSalle to lead the state’s highest court even though the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected him. It was the first time the Senate had rejected a governor’s pick for chief judge.

“That was very disappointing. Hector LaSalle was enormously qualified,” she said. “People hijacked a couple of cases, misinterpreted them, and spread falsehoods about his record.”

“I won’t change my approach,” she added. “I want to make sure that people have experience, who are excellent jurists, who have a record that we can be proud of.”

Hochul also stressed her support for law enforcement. Hochul noted her husband was a prosecutor for 30 years and said she wants more funding for police.

“For us to think that I would demonize police … that’s an absolute falsehood,” she said.

Beyond that, she said she supports progressive causes such as abortion rights, LGBTQ rights and health care for all.

“I am a moderate Democrat,” she said. “I have these progressive values but not socialist values. There’s a difference. I am a progressive. I’m not a socialist.”

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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Police ID victims in small plane crash ... What's next for Kamala Harris? . . . St. Rocco's preview . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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