New York Gov. Kathy Hochul wasn’t long into her first “State of the State” address when she made it clear that the tenure of former governor Andrew Cuomo was over and done with.
As you will read in this week’s issue, she proclaimed a “new era” for the state and, in so many words, her own rejection of how New York was managed under Mr. Cuomo.
She said the days of “disregarding the rightful role of the legislature” were over, and she decried the “wasting of time in petty rivalries,” a reference to the strained relationship between Cuomo and now former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
She also hit Mr. Cuomo again when she proposed banning earned outside income for some state officials, including the governor — a reference to Mr. Cuomo’s $5 million dollar book deal promoting his response during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In November, the state’s ethics panel rescinded its earlier approval of the deal.
On the pandemic, the governor acknowledged what no doubt every resident has been dealing with for nearly two years: sheer exhaustion from the continuing struggle to contain the virus in our homes, schools and businesses and bring the pandemic to an end.
We report this week that the omicron spike in COVID-19 cases resulted in absences at North Fork schools as they reopened after the holiday break. The COVID-19 positivity rate as of Monday across Suffolk County was 24.1%.
As reported in this week’s issue you will see the numbers for the past week for each of our local schools and districts. In Riverhead High School — with an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students — 55 students, five teachers and six staff members tested positive. In Greenport — with an enrollment of 343 students — 10 students, six teachers and one staff member tested positive.
In her address, Gov. Hochul praised schools for avoiding shutdowns, as we saw in the early days of the pandemic, when buildings were shuttered and offered only remote learning to students. Such closures were very hard on students, teachers and families, and we hope everything will be done to keep classrooms open.
As for those medical workers on the front lines, the governor had a welcome proposal: Increase the health care workforce by 20% over the next five years and invest $10 billion in that sector. She proposed spending $4 billion on wages and bonuses for health care workers and offering financial support for students training in the field.
These are all very welcome ideas the state Legislature should act on.