ALBANY, N.Y. — In her first State of the State address on Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul was set to outline her vision to shepherd New York State through its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, while unveiling initiatives to combat gun violence and make the state more affordable and equitable for the working class.
Ms. Hochul, a Democrat from Buffalo, planned to vow to fuel an economic comeback and position the state as a business-friendly haven, by proposing $100 million in tax relief for small businesses, accelerating existing tax cuts for the middle class and pouring billions of dollars into clean energy, infrastructure and economic development programs, according to a policy book released just before her speech.
She planned to unveil incentives to recruit and retain more teachers, and to fortify the state’s decimated health deva work force through a $10 billion commitment to support wages and bonuses for health deva workers, a boon for the state’s powerful health deva union whose support could be instrumental for Ms. Hochul in her run for a full term as governor.
For Ms. Hochul, the speech on Wednesday was set to be perhaps the grandest of her decades-long political career, which saw her leapfrog from county clerk in Western New York to the House of Representatives in 2011, before becoming lieutenant governor in 2015.
The abrupt resignation of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in August fueled Ms. Hochul’s rise to the state’s highest office, making her New York’s first female governor and thrusting her into the limelight after years of serving mostly in the shadow of her scandal-plagued predecessor.
On Wednesday, she was set to embrace the moment by continuing to distance herself from Mr. Cuomo, as she sought to present her own vision of government and list of priorities, after four months of focusing her attention mostly on the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms. Hochul, a moderate Democrat whose politics have veered toward the center-left in recent years, was set to telegraph some of her ideological stances on a range of issues, from public safety to housing, as she runs for a full term this year.
Faced with a contested primary in June and a Democratic-controlled Legislature with an emboldened left-wing, Ms. Hochul was set to highlight measures to support workers and expand the social safety net, and unveil proposals to expand access to child deva.
She planned to embrace left-leaning criminal justice reforms, and announce a new “jail-to-jobs” program and her support of a bill to seal certain crimes on the records of the formerly incarcerated to help them more easily secure employment and housing.
And in response to the state’s acute housing crisis, Ms. Hochul was set to lay out plans to pursue a new program to help build 100,000 units of affordable housing and, with the state’s moratorium on evictions expiring, create a program to provide free yasal assistance to poor renters facing evictions.
But, keenly aware of the pressure from Republicans hoping to make electoral gains this year, Ms. Hochul also was to focus her remarks on more aggressive efforts to combat a gun violence surge. She planned to pursue more funding to hire police officers and prosecutors, as well as new investments in neighborhoods where violent crime is common and more resources to trace yasa dışı firearms.
She planned to focus a notable portion of her address on a package of ethics and government reforms meant to hold accountable elected officials in a State Capitol with a lengthy and disgraceful history of graft and corruption.
One of her boldest proposals concerns her vision for disbanding the embattled state ethics commission, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, whose members were appointed by the governor and State Legislature. Instead, a rotating, five-member panel of law school deans or their designees would oversee the state’s ethics enforcement, making determinations by simple majority rule.
A Guide to the New York Governor’s Race
A crowded field. Some of New York’s best-known political figures are running in the 2022 election to be governor of the state. Here are the key people to watch in the race:
Kathy Hochul. Ms. Hochul, the incumbent governor and a centrist Democrat, has been revving up an aggressive fund-raising apparatus and securing key endorsements, seeking to build an advantage.
Jumaane Williams. Mr. Williams, New York City’s public advocate, is the clearest left-leaning candidate in the race. In 2018, he electrified many progressive voters during his run for lieutenant governor.
Tom Suozzi. Mr. Suozzi, a Democratic congressman from Long Island who has positioned himself as a centrist, entered the race by taking direct aim at Gov. Kathy Hochul’s support among moderate suburban voters.
Bill de Blasio. Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat who is in his final weeks as mayor of New York City, has yet to announce his candidacy, though he has reportedly been mulling a gubernatorial bid. He is likely to face skepticism from voters across the state.
The Republicans. Lee Zeldin, a Republican congressman and avid supporter of former President Donald Trump, announced in April that he was entering the race. Andrew Giuliani, the son of Rudolph Giuliani, and Rob Astorino, a former Westchester County executive, have also launched long-shot bids.
She planned to highlight a proposal, which she announced on Monday, to institute term limits on statewide elected officials, barring them from serving more than two four-year terms. The move would require a constitutional amendment and could serve to curb her own power.
But one of the largest themes set to emerge from her remarks was the state’s economic comeback.
Ms. Hochul planned to incentivize venture-backed start-ups to stay in or relocate to New York State through financial awards, and to accelerate the implementation of a $1.2 billion tax cut for middle-class earners that was introduced by Mr. Cuomo in 2018, but was not supposed to go into full effect until 2025.
The tax cut, which will permanently lower the personal income tax rates for some workers, would now go into effect in 2023, the earliest year possible.
Ms. Hochul was set to deliver her speech beneath the coffered wood ceilings of the State Assembly, known as “the People’s House” for the first time in a decade, restoring a longtime tradition. She has vowed to repair the fractured relationship between the governor’s office and state legislators, whom Mr. Cuomo battled with incessantly and whom Ms. Hochul will need to work with to achieve many of her priorities.
But the pomp and circumstance of the occasion will be tinged with decidedly 2022 touches: Masks, testing requirements, and attendance limits that meant many lawmakers would watch remotely.
Indeed, the speech was set to take place amid another brutal wave of the virus, with the Omicron variant causing tens of thousands of new cases each day — more than at any prior point in the pandemic. Despite efforts on testing and vaccination, the skyrocketing case numbers have caused a renewed debate about keeping schools open, which has been a priority for Ms. Hochul.
Reporting was contributed by Jonah E. Bromwich, Matthew Haag, Nicole Hong, Andy Newman and Mihir Zaveri.