Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her first State of the State...

Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her first State of the State address at the state Capitol on Wednesday. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s pandemic-time State of the State message to the legislature on Wednesday offered a something-for-everyone mix of proposals. The tone was straightforward and helped by the still-fresh presence you’d expect from an incumbent-by-succession already running for her first election to the top job.

As Long Island voters would have hoped, Hochul presented herself as a moderate governor looking beyond pandemic policies to the tax and services concerns of homeowners and the middle class.

As always, the success of her plans will depend on how she, the Senate and Assembly follow up in the upcoming budget and legislative session. Key details are always sketchy on State of the State day, and first-week-of-the-year optimism gets blunted in the following months.

"We are going to jump-start our economic recovery by being the most business-friendly and worker-friendly state in the nation," she vowed. It's the kind of rhetoric we've heard before, but gives a flavor of her aspirations. Importantly, she acknowledged the departure of 300,000 state residents last year, a big concern for the future.

Some of the specifics carry special regional interest.

Hochul proposed a billion-dollar property-tax rebate program for which more than two million New York families would be eligible. She also seeks to phase in the multiyear tax-cut program that began in 2018 faster than scheduled.

Making Stony Brook University and the University at Buffalo "flagship" SUNY institutions also stands out. The aim is to draw more than $1 billion a year in mostly federal research money. Hochul also calls for $100 million to construct a new multidisciplinary engineering building at Stony Brook.

Steps to make health care coverage more affordable for vulnerable seniors and the disabled, to beef up "jails-to-jobs" programs for those released from incarceration, to provide child care at SUNY and CUNY campuses, and to offer tax help for farmers to pay overtime wages all promise to assist Long Islanders.

She made clear she's pressing ahead on her predecessor Andrew M. Cuomo's big Penn Station and LaGuardia Airport overhauls, as well as other transportation projects. But in her message Hochul didn't mention the business-backed push to move the Long Island Rail Road’s Yaphank train station closer to Brookhaven National Laboratory, which her administration would do well to move forward.

Some more-difficult issues also went unaddressed. Whatever the merits, legislation enacted in recent years under the label of bail reform has been tied in political debate to recent crime spikes. Does Hochul think changes should be made to close revolving-door justice for dangerous criminals? No answer in this speech. Nor did she expound on how much of a game-changer she believes her plans to revamp the state's ethics enforcement will be.

Gnarly questions aside, Hochul issued a formidable wish list. Now she plunges into a full year of living gubernatorially, with a proving ground of upstate, city and suburban interests ahead.

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