Gov. Kathy Hochul’s pay-to-play scandal is getting worse by the day. Just this week, we learned that the Digital Gadgets owner held a month-long fundraiser for her before striking a deal to sell the government’s COVID tests twice Prices from other providers.
The corruption is clear. But maybe you’ve decided to put that aside because you’re excited about Hochul’s plans to reduce crime and boost the state’s anemic economy while record numbers of New Yorkers flee to Florida — and take their tax dues with them.
Impossible. Because Hochul offers no plans, just platitudes, in stark contrast to their opponent, Rep. Lee Zeldin.
The candidates see very different stakes in the November election. “Delivering Outcomes for New York State” is Hochul’s best-selling book. These “results” make New Yorkers leave. Zeldin, on the other hand, understands the urgency: “Save Our State,” he begs.
Poll after poll has shown that crime ranks high on voters’ minds. So what are Hochul’s “priorities,” as she puts it, in terms of “public safety and justice”? Overcoming the crime crisis is not one of them. She claims to be “committed to keeping our communities and families safe” but offers nothing to protect them, much less protect them. It simply trumpets the passage of “laws to further strengthen New York’s state-leading gun laws” — which clearly don’t keep firearms out of the hands of criminals — and “directs tens of millions of dollars in grants” to “reduce firearm-related incidents.” Mediation, mentoring and social commitment.”
Zeldin’s Securing Our Streets platform is refreshingly specific. He would “repeal non-cash bail” and amend the Less Is More Act and Raise the Age “to give judges more discretion.” He would also “give judges discretion in setting bail.”
As he has repeatedly stated, he will not stand up for prosecutors who are not doing their job. “My first act on my first day in office is to tell Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that he’s going to be fired,” he reiterated this week. The governor has the power; Hochul refuses to use it.
In the concerns of the voters, crime is close to the economy. The unemployment rate in New York is 4.7%, one point higher than the national average – and in New York City it’s a staggering 6.6%. Government spends more even when a recession is looming (if it hasn’t already).
What does Hochul have to offer here? More tax money. Her platform lists her “historic investments in fueling New York’s economic recovery,” “hundreds of millions of dollars in recovery aid,” and “increased support for teachers and healthcare workers.” It’s not a word about creating a workplace-friendly environment that attracts companies to hire people here.
When she met with the Post’s editorial board after six months, Hochul boasted, “In my free time, guys, I go places like I’m a recruiter. I like doing business.” We didn’t know she meant deals for donors. Hochul poured all of her political capital into Albany’s budget talks to secure a stadium deal for the Florida-based owners of the Buffalo Bills — giving up an opportunity to make real fixes to save “reform” and do something for the city’s schoolkids who see heartbreaking learning losses.
Zeldin knows you can’t throw money at “a just recovery” and union friends to fix a ailing economy. Again, he brings the details Hochul doesn’t want: “Broad-scale tax cuts, scrapping job-killing regulations,” and more. He will work to make fracking legal again and permit new pipelines, create jobs and cut energy bills, which will skyrocket again this winter.
Parental rights have emerged as an important factor in elections across the country over the past year. Hochul “plans to invest an additional $2.1 billion in New York’s public schools to increase the number of teachers, bus drivers and support staff.” New York schools are already well funded — $24,040 per student, the highest in the country and nearly double the national average of $12,520 — but that money hasn’t yielded results, proficiency tests show.
Zeldin swears he is “fighting for our kids” and not for teachers’ unions. He would “encourage greater parental involvement in education,” “ban a divisive curriculum that pits children against one another based on race,” grant “school choice tax credits,” and — crucially in the city — “the cap raise for charter schools. ”
Hochul has the chutzpah to include a “transparency and accountability” section on its platform — a promise it has already broken.
Zeldin vowed to take “accountability for the Cuomo-Hochul administration’s deadly nursing home ordering and cover-up” and strengthen the Freedom of Information Act.
No wonder Hochul continued to delay agreeing to debates—until she reluctantly agreed to just one. How can she answer Zeldin’s problems? Their ads also don’t provide a positive platform. She has exactly one issue she brings up against Zeldin: abortion. But we all know that New York’s abortion rights laws, which are among the strongest in the nation, will not change when Zeldin becomes governor.
New York faces crises on all fronts. A candidate understands this and has serious plans to confront them. The other has her head in the sand and her hands in everyone’s pockets. The choice is clear.
Kelly Jane Torrance is the Editor of the Post. Twitter: @KJTorrance