After unveiling her executive budget earlier this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Long Island on Thursday as the first place in the state to tout her budget proposals. She highlighted the benefits that her budget proposals will have in the suburban neighborhoods – a key battleground for control of the House. “I knew I wanted to come to Long Island first for my first rollout of the plan,” Hochul said.
Governors have often toured the state after presenting their agenda, or following the passage of the budget, to highlight the proposals and accomplishments that will specifically impact different parts of the state. After releasing her budget plan, Hochul made Suffolk County’s North Shore her first stop, where she sang the praises of the downstate region. “Why are we focusing on Long Island so much? Well, because there's nothing like Long Island,” Hochul said. “It is a microcosm of the entire state – what we do here, the investments we make here, we can also talk about transporting to other parts of the state.”
The decision by Hochul follows her State of the State address earlier this month that seemed targeted towards moderate suburbanites. Her agenda included issues that resonate in the suburbs, like public safety, and featured a retreat from key components of her housing plan from last year that proved incredibly unpopular in the suburbs. Long Island has proven to be a particularly difficult region of the state for Democrats, where Republicans have consistently won major races for the past three years. One county over from where Hochul held her event on Thursday, both parties are preparing for a February special election that will serve as the first litmus test for the mood of suburban voters ahead of crucial battleground elections later this year.
In addition to highlighting budget investments she has proposed, Hochul made it a point to remind Long Islanders of improvements to the region made since she took office. She mentioned the $4 billion in new school funding that has gone to Long Island since she became governor, her initiative that filled potholes that resulted in hundreds of miles worth of newly paved roads on the Long Island Expressway and lowered unemployment rates. “We’ve really accomplished a lot together, and sometimes you don’t know it until you really take a look at the numbers, and we truly are trending in the right direction,” Hochul said.
The governor lost both Long Island counties to Republican Lee Zeldin in the 2022 gubernatorial election and her 2023 housing plan contributed to low approval and favorability ratings in the region as well. But her event Thursday seemed targeted at reminding Long Islanders and other suburban New Yorkers ahead of key House races in November that she is one of them. “I'm the first governor ever from the suburbs, I've represented suburbs,” Hochul said. “So I understand what suburbs are all about.”