Rochester area lawmakers react to State of the State

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — First and foremost, a lot of Rochester-area lawmakers said they were happy to see a woman deliver the State of the State address. It’s a first for New York State.

Gov. Kathy Hochul outlined a lot of proposals Wednesday including a plan to expand access to affordable childcare. That will perk up the ears of a lot of parents. However, Assemblymember Jen Lunsford says the governor’s plan doesn’t go far enough especially for middle class families.

"While I saw some discussion about child care, it’s not quite as big and bold as the vision we have here in the Assembly. So I hope we can work together to make that more expansive to create more change for middle-income families who are really struggling," Lunsford said.

Another proposal from the governor: Permanently allowing alcohol to go for restaurants and bars. It’s something that was allowed during part of the pandemic, but Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D, 138) and State Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D, 56) both have concerns about it.

Cooney pointed out it could hurt local liquor and wine stores.

"I think there are ways we can balance this proposal out that we can empower our businesses to get through this rough part of the pandemic but also make sure we’re not hurting one small business at the expense of another," Cooney said.

"We have to take a close look at that," Bronson added. "It was controversial last year. It didn’t make it through. So we have to take a closer look at that one in particular."

Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R, 134) said he didn’t hear enough about how Hochul’s administration will solve everyday issues facing us all including skyrocketing prices, soaring inflation, and increased crime.

"Today, we heard more of the same tax-and-spend policies that have plagued our state for over a decade. New Yorkers are frustrated with the status quo," Jensen said. "Governor Hochul should be pledging to work with all members of the state government—regardless of political party—to bring our state together and accomplish real results for New Yorkers."

One thing the governor didn’t bring up was bail reform. New York Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy said bail reform has prioritized criminals over victims and increased violent crime.

"The complete breakdown of our criminal justice system courtesy of New York Democrats should anger everyone, regardless of your party affiliation," Langworthy said. "We need bold leadership and someone with the courage to stand up to the extremists who want to make New York a socialist sanctuary for criminals."

The State of the State did support the City of Rochester’s next phase of the ROC the Riverway initiative, which includes plans to create a Rochester High Falls State Park, revitalize the former Riverside Hotel, update the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, and renovate the High Falls Visitor Center.

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said he is thrilled to have the governor’s support on the project.