🔥🔥 Gov. Kathy Hochul fights back on budget bail fight as left proclaims ‘gloves off’

Mayor Eric Adams wearing a hat standing next to Gov. Kathy Hochul while she speaks before a microphone with Times Square in the blurry background.

With violent crimes, burglaries and thefts rising in New York City and statewide, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday launched a counteroffensive against progressive lawmakers fighting her proposed changes to bail reform tied to the April 1 budget.

“I want to remove any question about whether a judge has discretion to set bail or remand individuals,” she said at an Albany press conference.

“It’s just common sense. It’s supported by most New Yorkers, and the data is also with us.”

The governor has proposed for serious crimes that the state nix existing law requiring judges to give criminal defendants the “least restrictive” conditions ahead of their trials – whether or not the charged offense was bail eligible.

State data released Wednesday shows that so-called “index crimes” – murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle thefts – have risen by 27% in total in 2022, and 21% statewide, compared to the previous year despite decreases in shootings and murders.

“For violent felonies, we are seeing an uptick in recidivism – people reoffending while they’re out and even bigger increases for recidivism for defendants with serious crimes,” she said while citing a recent study by John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Gov. Kathy Hochul says the public and data are on her side when it comes to overhauling bail reform in the state budget due April 1.
Matthew McDermott

Hochul justified her proposed bail change amid rising crime by noting how judges have griped about a lack of certainty when it comes to whether they can impose bail despite the “least restrictive” standard they say requires them to release people who might reoffend or otherwise threaten public safety.

“They’re right about this,” Hochul said.

The newly-elected governor says the bail change is part of a multi-pronged strategy to boost public safety that also includes increasing funding for prosecutors from $12 million to $52 million to help them meet shortened timelines to turn over evidence to defendants that prosecutors blame for a surge in dropped cases.

Carl Heastie speaking with a pointed index finger while speaking at a podium in front of a black background.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says a nationwide increase in crime suggests bail reform is not to blame in New York.
LightRocket via Getty Images

But the Democratic supermajorities in the state Senate and Assembly rejected her bail proposal in budget resolutions they passed last week – and progressives vowed Wednesday to turn up the heat on Hochul during the final stretch of budget negotiations.

“We’re not staying silent anymore,” Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn), a leading proponent of bail reform, said at the Capitol Wednesday. “The gloves are off.”

Andrea Stewart-Cousins standing at a podium in front of a wooden background with a pensive expression.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins recently said that data suggests bail reform is not driving a surge in reported crimes by repeat offenders.

Data has shown that thousands of cases where criminal defendants were released without bail only to be charged with another crime – though data shows the vast majority of defendants do not.

And progressives note that crime has risen nationwide since controversial criminal justice reforms took effect shortly before the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020 while also claiming that Hochul’s proposal would lead to more people of color locked behind bars.

“As I’ve always said, you’re not going to incarcerate people into crime dropping,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) told reporters last week.

“And I just think people want to continue that narrative. If it works politically, you know, God bless them. But that’s not going to solve the problem. And I think responsible people want to give responsible solutions, not just politicize this.”

Assemblywoman Latrice Walker said Wednesday “the gloves are off” when it comes to holding the line against Hochul’s proposed bail change.
LightRocket via Getty Images

Albany Democrats made changes to bail reform in 2020 and 2022 – a fact legislative leaders have leaned on while resisting Hochul this time around over the “least restrictive” standard.

“I’m willing to sit down and always be willing to sit down, as is Speaker Heastie, to really figure out if there is something that would make it clear, but quite honestly, we have always looked at data,” state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonker) said last week.

Few Democratic legislators have openly bucked party leadership by expressing support for Hochul’s proposed change to bail reform, with four out of 42 Democratic state senators and a single Assembly member attending her press conference Wednesday alongside roughly two dozen local officials.

The newly-elected governor faces a multi-front fight over the budget amid growing signs that Albany Democrats will blow past the April 1 deadline.

Progressives oppose a litany of her proposals, including efforts to overhaul bail reform and expand charter schools.

Suburbanites from both parties have also lobbed withering criticism at housing proposals they claim would undermine local zoning laws as well as their pushback to her efforts to increase a payroll tax on businesses to support the MTA.

And while Republicans are backing her bail change, they are taking direct aim at progressive parts of her budget, including a proposal to ban natural gas hook-ups in new buildings starting in 2025 as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Hochul has suggested that she is willing to let the budget deadline pass without a final deal in order to pressure Heastie and Stewart-Cousins to give in on bail and other top priorities though they could, in theory, overrule her if their supermajorities stick together.

An outside group reportedly linked to the Demoratic Governors Association has joined the fight with the help of millions of dollars donated by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose tough-on-crime policies aroused the anger of progressives for years.

The group, called American Opportunity, is buying digital and TV ads while also targeting the constituents of Democratic lawmakers through mailers.

“It’s obvious that this campaign is meant to intimidate legislators into protecting the ultra-rich, and into sitting back while policies like rolling back bail reform and expanding New York City’s charter school cap are steamrolled through the budget process,” Assemblywoman Sarahana Shrestha said at the Capitol Wednesday.

While Democratic lawmakers gave no sign of budging from their bail position Wednesday, Hochul insisted to reporters she is positioned for victory in a final budget deal on the matter while doubling down on her threat to hold up the budget.

She noted that she is only trying to change the “least restrictive” standard when it comes to serious crimes rather than the low-level offenders who progressives suggest would be hurt if that idea ever gets passed in the budget.

“I should make it clear that we’re not incarcerating people for low-level crimes or criminalizing poverty but giving judges the discretion necessary to ensure public safety,” Hochul said.

Read More Latest Crime News From United States & European Countries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *