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Kathy Hochul defends bail reform changes, new stadium for Buffalo Bills

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday defended controversial aspects of the record $220 billion state budget — specifically the $600 million in taxpayer money she received for a new stadium for her hometown Buffalo Bills — after a new poll that showed that she struggled with voters before the June 28 Democratic primary for governor.

Less than a quarter of registered voters, including 18 percent in the state, approve of the stadium’s funding, which includes another $250 million from the local county, according to a Siena College poll released Monday morning.

“I think it was a good deal for the taxpayers,” Hochul told reporters after a morning performance at Buffalo’s Kleinhans Music Hall. “We worked hard to achieve that.”

The poll also found that a slim majority of respondents believe the state is moving in the wrong direction.

A multitude of voters said they would prefer to vote for someone other than Hochul for governor if she beats rival Rep. Tom Suozzi and New York State Attorney Jumaane Williams to become the Democratic nominee for governor.

Hochul downplayed the importance of the unfriendly data, widely regarded by political observers as one of the most accurate reflections of public opinion on state policies, noting that voter attitudes towards some parts of the budget were not examined.

Gov. Kathy Hochul defended controversial parts of the US$220 billion state budget in the face of poor poll numbers.
Gov. Kathy Hochul defended controversial parts of the US$220 billion state budget in the face of poor poll numbers.
J. Messerschmidt/NY Post

“We didn’t do a poll [to examine] ‘Are people okay with billions of dollars being spent on transportation around Long Island, or money that we’re putting into the North Country to prepare the North Country for the World University Games?'” she told reporters in Buffalo when asked about the 63% of registered voters who oppose the stadium deal.

Economists question the economic benefits of publicly funded stadiums, especially when compared to other projects that directly benefit the state economy.

“If you’ve poll tested, and I don’t think that’s happening, the billions of dollars that we’re putting into Penn Station or East Side Access tunnels… the answer will likely be the same.” That’s what I’m dealing with as governor, I have a big state with many diverse interests, and I know this is important to the identity of West New York, I will stand by that,” Hochul said of the unpopularity of the stadium deal.

The poll found that 63% of respondents opposed state funding for the new Buffalo Bills Stadium.
The poll found that 63% of respondents opposed state funding for the new Buffalo Bills Stadium.
University of Siena

Only 20 percent of respondents said Hochul does an excellent or good job of dealing with crime. About a third said the same about their handling of the economy, COVID-19, restoring confidence in government and “providing the leadership New Yorkers are looking for in their governor,” according to the survey.

But the poll had some good news for the embattled governor, with more voters supporting the legalization of take-out drinks, an expansion of downstate casinos and a $4.2 billion green bond bill up for voting planned for November, support rather than oppose.

Nearly three-quarters of voters also support a six-month suspension of state gasoline taxes from June 1 through the end of the year, resulting in savings of 16 cents a gallon for motorists.

Hochul said the stadium deal was "important to the identity of western New York."
Hochul said the stadium deal was “important to the identity of western New York.”
Populous

Two-thirds of poll respondents also supported bail reform changes, which met with strong opposition from progressive lawmakers and were included in the state budget. This expanded the list of offenders eligible for bail while also making it easier for people accused of multiple crimes to be detained in court before their day in court.

A majority of voters say bail reform has helped increase crime, but only 32 percent of them believe new changes will reduce crime in the future.

“We made thoughtful changes to our laws within budget,” she said of the bail reform changes. “It wasn’t easy to do, but it was the right thing to do and we did it.”

Hochul said the changes to the bail reform laws in the budget are the "to do the right thing."
Hochul said the bail reform law changes in the budget are “the right thing to do”.
AP Photo/John Minchillo

Hochul is running for a full term this year after the ex-gov fell out of favour. Andrew Cuomo resigned last year amid a litany of scandals.

While some voters may not be as optimistic about how Hochul has performed as governor, according to Monday’s Siena poll, she signaled that she will continue fighting for her budget gains about two months before the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

“We’re going to redefine New York’s destiny,” she said during her morning performance in Buffalo. “It starts, as I said, with a socially responsible and fiscally prudent, very fiscally prudent budget. So let’s focus on what that looks like.”

https://nypost.com/2022/04/25/kathy-hhochul-on-defense-over-600m-for-bills-stadium-amid-tough-poll-numbersochul-defends-bail-reform-changes-new-stadium-for-buffalo-bills/ Kathy Hochul defends bail reform changes, new stadium for Buffalo Bills

JACLYN DIAZ

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