From the Right: Gov. Hochul — Cuomo Redux

From the Right: Gov. Hochul — Cuomo Redux
George Marlin

In her quest to win this year’s gubernatorial election, Gov. Kathy Hochul has been adhering to the key precept in the Andrew Cuomo campaign playbook: “Take the money.”

Like Cuomo, the governor has taken money from every conceivable special interest group. Numerous real estate developers, government employee unions, and corporate giants have donated the maximum amount permissible under law, $69,700.

Employees of Ostroff Associates, a noted Albany lobbying firm, have given her the maximum so far. And a firm that represents banks and automotive dealers has contributed $25,000.

Crypto currency miners have also opened up their checkbooks. The CEO of one such company, Coinmint, has donated $40,000.

Will such contributions affect her decision to approve or reject legislation on her desk that curtail bitcoin mining operations utilizing carbon-based power sources? We will see.

Then there are the real estate developers. One player, who was very close to Andrew Cuomo, Scott Rechler, and his wife, have given the Hochul campaign the maximum as of the last filing with the state.

The chairman of Tishman Speyer, Jerry Speyer, wrote checks totaling $50,000.

The owner of Madison Square Garden, James Dolan, who has a major interest in the future of the area around his midtown real estate, has donated $69,700.

Lest we forget, Hochul, like her predecessor, has endorsed the revitalization of the Pennsylvania Station area that will include 10 new buildings. The governor made the commitment despite The New York Times reporting that “New York City’s Independent Budget Office has raised serious questions about the financial viability of the development, the state’s role in it and the possibility that taxpayers would have to foot the bill if the revenue its boosters are expecting fails to materialize.”

Hochul has also been placating another group of generous donors—government employee unions.

There’s the rollback of pension reforms; reduction of vesting periods to five years from 10 years, and the cutback of some pension contribution rates.

The Medicaid budget which soared by 11% in fiscal 2021-2022 and is expected to jump another 11% in the 2022-2023 state fiscal year, takes care of unionized health care workers. Gov. Hochul’s spending increases, the Empire Center for Public Policy has reported, “included across-the- board increases in Medicaid fees for providers, extra funding for financially distressed hospitals and nursing homes, one-time bonuses for front-line health workers, and a $3 hike in the minimum hourly wage for home health aides.”

Hochul has also boosted state spending for education by 7.2%, or $2 billion, to make nice to the teacher unions. This increase is on the top of the $9 billion of “emergency” aid from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Spending on New York teacher salaries and benefits will top $18,000, about 120% above the national average.

To further placate teacher unions, the state Legislature and the governor are throwing Mayor Eric Adams under the school bus.

The extension of the mayoral control of public schools is for only two years. Provisions in the new law not only weaken Adam’s authority but impose increased spending that could cost as much as $1.5 billion.

Worse yet, the United Federation of Teachers will be granted a power they have sought for years: control over class size.

The legislation states that reducing the number of students in the classroom “shall be developed in collaboration with the collective bargaining units representing teachers and the principals and signed off on by the chancellor and the presidents of each bargaining unit.”

The “collective bargaining units” have to be overjoyed by this development. For the first time they will have a veto power over class size, and their membership rolls will swell as more teachers are hired to teach fewer children.

It also means more union dues to contribute to Hochul’s campaign treasury.

Gov. Hochul learned a lot from her mentor, Andrew Cuomo. He must be proud that his star pupil excels at fiscal “sleight of hand” of the worst sort: convincing the public that she is a responsible executive—all the while pandering to special interests by increasing spending and pork and building a fund-raising machine that is outperforming Cuomo’s operation when he was at the peak of his power.

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