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Gov. Kathy Hochul Lays Out Agenda In 1st State Of The State Address

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul gave her first State of the State speech Wednesday, laying out an ambitious agenda to build New York back after the devastation of the pandemic with tax cuts, new infrastructure projects, and ethics reforms to distance herself from the scandals of her predecessor.

She also hopes it will be the blueprint that will help her win election as governor in her own right.

As CBS2's political report Marcia Kramer reports, wearing glowing suffragette white, Hochul made history as the first woman to deliver the annual State of the State speech in New York.

"I didn't come here to make history. I came here to make a difference," Hochul said.

WATCH: Gov. Kathy Hochul Gives 1st State Of The State Address In Albany 

And the first thing she did was make it clear that the days of Andrew Cuomo - with his tight-fisted control of state government and bitter fighting - are over .

"That ends now," Hochul said. "The days of the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City wasting time on petty rivalries are over."

Mayor Eric Adams, were you listening? Because if you were, you heard that, as she seeks to curry favor with city voters in this oh-so-political election year. There were a number of goodies for you in the 220 proposals she laid out in her 2022 agenda.

Would you like a brand new rail system to connect Brooklyn and Queens?

"Today I'm announcing a bold idea. Take an old, unused 14-mile long right of way and create what we're calling the 'Interborough Express,'" Hochul said.

The new line - the MTA will have to decide whether it will be heavy rail, light rail or bus rapid transit - will connect Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with Jackson Heights, Queens. A 40 minute ride will connect an estimated 900,000 people to 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.

"I am directing the MTA to immediately commence an environmental review," Hochul said.

"While details are still forthcoming, I commend Governor Hochul for making improved outerborough connectivity a central theme of her State of the State address," Queens Borough President Donavan Richards Jr. said in a statement after the speech.

The governor offered new proposals to both deal with the pandemic and build the state back after the devastation caused by COVID-19. She wants to create lots of new jobs, like increasing the health care workforce by 20%, for example, and putting more money in the pockets of businesses and taxpayers.

That includes:

  • A $1.2 billion middle class tax cut for over six million New Yorkers
  • $1 billion in property tax rebates for two million families
  • $100 million in tax relief for nearly 200,000 small businesses

"These businesses are the economic engines of small towns and big cities alike," Hochul said.

The governor didn't mention bail reform, which is high on the wish list of Adams, but she did include a long list of initiatives for getting guns off the streets. And in a nod to the liberal wing of the Democratic party, she promised what she called the "Clean Slate Act,' to expunge the records of thos who have committed crimes.

  • 2.3 million New Yorkers could have their records sealed if they keep their noses clean
  • People convicted of felonies would have to stay out of trouble for seven years
  • Those convicted of misdemeanors stay crime-free for three years

And there will be ethics reform - a whole new agency to deal with ethics issues, and a proposal for term limits for statewide elected officials.

"We'll provide a tax credit for COVID-related purchases, like outdoor heating and seating," she said. "We're also going to do something our bars and restaurants have been asking for -- to once again allow the sale of to-go drinks, a critical revenue stream during the lean times last year. So cheers, New York."

The NYC Hospitality Alliance was quick to return the cheers, saying in a statement, "We commend Governor Hochul for her leadership, and we look forward to toasting her administration and the state legislature once this important policy is reinstated."

Hochul also laid out a five-year housing plan to create 100,000 affordable homes, including 10,000 units with special supportive services.

"We can no longer ignore the plight of NYCHA residents living in sometimes deplorable conditions. The lieutenant governor and I will work with the city of New York and this Legislature on concrete action this session," she added.

"This is a political challenge and it's also a very difficult time in the state of New York. I mean, we're still in the middle of the COVID crisis. We've got an economy in a tailspin. This is not an easy time to be running for governor," Columbia University political science professor Esther Fuchs told Kramer.

In just a few weeks, the governor will have to propose a $200 billion state budget. She has ruled out raising taxes on the wealthy, which could put her on a collision course with the increasingly liberal Legislature, where tax the rich is a popular mantra.

Since this is an election year, the sniping from her opponents - both Democrats and Republicans - began almost immediately. For Hochul, her words and her agenda could spell the difference between winning her own four year term, or being relegated to the dustbin of history as the woman who ran the state for 16 months when Cuomo got kicked out for sexual shenanigans.

"This is an extremely important speech for her, the speech of her political lifetime. It will really make or break her career," Fuchs said.

Watch Marcia Kramer's report -- 

The sniping began immediately. Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, who wants to beat Hochul in the Democratic primary, accused the governor of "playing catchup on COVID, creating chaos in schools, a mess in testing, and turning the governor's office into a personal ATM for her political campaign."

"This speech could have been given pre-pandemic. What we need now is a really bold vision, agenda to move this state forward," said New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who is running for governor himself.

Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin claimed it's time to break the Democratic stranglehold on Albany.

"New York's current governor, Kathy Hochul, and one party rule in Albany have continued the attacks on you wallets, safety, freedom, and kids' education. We need political balance in Albany," Zeldin said. "And equally important - we need geographic balance of power."

The gubernatorial primary election for both Democrats and Republicans is June 29.

Adams gave Hochul an "Attaboy" - actually an "Attagirl" - congratulating her for a "powerful address." He said he was ready to join her in getting the job done.

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