New governor promises a culture change in state government

Photo by Kevin P. Coughlin, Office of the Governor
August 24, 2021 – Albany — Shown is a panoramic view of Governor Kathy Hochul, New York State’s 57th Governor, and New York’s first female Governor, addressing attendees after her swearing in, in the Red Room of the Capitol Tuesday morning August 24, 2021.

Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke directly to the people of New York just hours after being sworn in as the first female governor.

Hochul said she plans to fulfill New York’s motto “ever upward” through a series of “day-one” changes including getting children back to school, increasing vaccination rights, creating a more ethical government, and overall changing the culture. 

“I have braced and internalized the hopes and dreams of 20 million people who share the name New Yorkers,” Hochul said as she intends to enact change. 

Hochul makes getting children back to school a top priority in her “day-one” reforms. After corresponding with parents, school boards, superintendents, and elected officials, the governor said vaccinations will become required for all school personnel with a temporary option to test out weekly. 

A back-to-school COVID-19 testing program is being launched to make testing for students, faculty and staff readily available. Hochul said she will be announcing a series of school related policies that will be “concise and consistent giving the school districts what they have been asking for”. 

Moving forward, Hochul is implementing a mandatory ethics and sexual harassment training program that all New York State government workers must complete. These programs will be taken live and in-person, rather than an online independent class. Hochul aims for ethical governing with open transparency laws to ensure the people that they are receiving information as it comes about. 

Hochul intends to increase vaccination rates for New York.. The FDA has now given full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, leading to new vaccine requirements. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts say booster shots should be planned 8 months after receiving the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Hochul said, “I am prepared to do whatever is necessary, including reopening mass vaccination sites where a booster is available so New Yorkers can meet the time table.” 

Full vaccinations will soon become a requirement for certain establishments such as SUNY schools. 

A change in the overall culture of state government is in order, as Hochul is taking accountability. COVID relief money will be distributed to help get the people of New York back on their feet. “We are launching a new targeted campaign to reach more New Yorkers on rent relief- partnerships with legislators, the city of New York, and other cities and counties to get the job done,” Hochul said. 

Hochul started her career as a Hamburg Town Board member then served as the Erie County Clerk for five years. Following that, she was elected to Congress to represent the 26th Congressional District. In 2015 Hochul became Lieutenant Governor.

Andrew Cuomo stepped down from office in response to sexual harassment allegations from 11 women, many whom had either worked for New York State or directly for Cuomo. Cuomo is also facing backlash from the data his administration provided for COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes across New York.

“For the first time in New York history, a woman will enter the arena as governor,” Hochul said. “As I undertake the weight and responsibilities before me, I know that I have the confidence, the courage and the ability to lead New Yorkers forward.”