Governor Kathy Hochul (D) gave her State of the State Address earlier this week, and while she laid out some decent aspects of her legislative agenda, we feel her speech left much to be desired.

            Although soberingly realistic on some of the issues New York faces, we are inclined to agree with some electeds who felt her speech was simply too “glass half-empty.” Additionally, a more pessimistic view on the state of things would be welcomed if Hochul actually addressed the issues that have put New York squarely in the center of several crises.

            Let’s start with the positives: Hochul has established her intentions to increase student literacy in the state, something that the entire country seems to struggle with, for one reason or another. While many children cannot read at grade level, we agree that instituting a more rigorous approach to phonics is a step in the right direction. We would propose, however, that education is less dictated by task forces and abstract lesson plans, rather than concrete learning that teaches children what they’re supposed to know for the real world. Additionally, we are confused by New York City’s last-minute transition to remote learning for children in Madison in response to a Brooklyn high school’s gymnasium being used to shelter some 2,000 migrants. While Tuesday night’s winter storm was dangerous, we are confused as to why temporary measures are becoming more permanent ones, and why our schoolchildren must pay the price, especially in light of how unilaterally destructive and regressive at-home education turned out to be.

Additionally, we agree that mental health investments can be a good use of taxpayer money, but remain cautious to see how the money is spent.

However, the school issue leads us to perhaps the largest and most glaring issue faced by the state and perpetuated by Governor Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams: the ongoing migrant crisis.

A country to which people can migrate for economic success and stability is not discouraged or intended to be hoarded. However, a state must be able to care for its own before caring for others. When New Yorkers consistently take back seats to people who are here illegally, there should be greater cause for concern. Even if every migrant was here legally and there was not an obvious crisis at the border, the massive influxes of people who have been arriving in New York for months on end has caused massive fiscal strains on taxpayers and state resources. How can we even expect to care for people who migrate here legally when everyone swamps the boat at once? We need to keep ourselves afloat to ensure others can climb aboard.

The fact that the Governor was eerily quiet on this issue should raise red flags everywhere. Opting to discuss it at a later date not only fails to address the massive elephant in the room, but also ignores the calls from a significant portion of the chamber, Republicans and moderate Democrats whose communities are affected by the strain on resources and the expectation to adapt to the environment created by Albany and Washington.

Switching topics, the opioid and fentanyl problem is a much less controversial one, yet somehow the Governor felt it was necessary to remain reticent on this issue as well. Offering no solid plan of action on the ongoing crises, it appears the response to these issues lies solely on county leadership.

The Messenger thanks District Attorney Ray Tierney, other elected officials, and affected families for  rallying in Albany the day before the address, in hopes of emphasizing the importance of the issue for Hochul to mention.

Apparently, she feels it’s not of remote importance to mention in the biggest address of the year.

Common-sense changes to the laws are desired to help prosecutors and local law enforcement curb illegal drug sales and overdoses, but even that seems to be too big of an ask for Albany. And even though local leadership can have their say, they can still only work with the tools they’re given. We are completely reliant on Albany for the rectification of these laws for the greater protection of our communities.

Finally, we don’t think this year’s budget proceedings will be markedly different from last year’s. Typically, both parties are responsible for the fighting that affects how legislation is passed and how budgets are formed. Last year, however, in her attempts to govern as an ostensible moderate, Hochul fought with progressive Democrats over bail reform changes that held the budget debate up for over a month after its April 1 deadline. We anticipate this year’s April 1 to be not much different.

The problem is: Hochul does not know how to throw elbows in Albany. It’s something we can give Andrew Cuomo credit for, but by that logic, it’s also his fault for keeping Hochul in the dark so long as Lieutenant Governor. The legislature gave themselves massive raises to make them the most well-compensated state legislators in the nation last year, and Hochul got nothing in return. Why would she think they would go quietly when she tries to govern moderately?

Overall, we are cautiously optimistic of Hochul’s plan for the year, disappointed the two major issues of the day were not addressed, and we are not holding our breath regarding intraparty fight sure to materialize in Albany this year.

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The Messenger Papers Editorial Board aspires to represent a fair cross section of our Suffolk County readers. We work to present a moderate view on issues facing Long Island families and businesses.