Regrets? New York governor who told foes to ‘head down to Florida’ now wants to ‘reverse the trend’

According to the government’s Census Bureau, New York suffered “the largest annual numeric and percent population decline” in 2022 out of all the states.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In her New Year’s inaugural address, New York governor Kathy Hochul prioritized the regaining of a sense of personal safety and making her state more affordable for residents in a bid to “reverse the trend” of people leaving for other states of the Union.

Her comments drew ridicule from many who recalled that during her election campaign, she told her political foes, including Republican opponent Rep. Lee Zeldin, to “just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong, OK? You are not New Yorkers.”

Zeldin himself mocked her address, tweeting, “Here’s a great place for Hochul to start: Stop telling people to get on a bus and move to Florida if they disagree with your views.”

According to the government’s Census Bureau, New York suffered “the largest annual numeric and percent population decline” in 2022 out of all the states, with a net domestic migration of just under 300,000 residents.

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By contrast, the Bureau noted that Florida was the fastest-growing state, with a population increase of nearly two percent.

“First, we must — and will — make our state safer,” Hochul vowed during her address. “This means New Yorkers can walk our streets and ride our subways, our kids can go to school, free from fear.”

She mentioned “the gun violence epidemic” and “the rise in hate crimes,” calling out antisemitism first in a list that included hatred of the Asian and LGBTQ sectors.

“Secondly, we have to make our state more affordable…. New Yorkers are just struggling to pay rent, food and gas to get to their jobs…. We’re going to fight for them. And we must reverse the trend of people leaving our state in search of lower costs and opportunities elsewhere. We can do this,” she said during Sunday’s speech.

In a gubernatorial debate with Zeldin in October, she downplayed concerns over violence on the streets when challenged by her opponent, drawing outrage from former state assemblyman Dov Hikind.

“When asked about crime on the subway, Hochul downplayed the violence by saying, it is just ‘a sense of fear in peoples’ minds,’” Hikind said in a vlog following the televised event. “This is what Hochul believes. How dare she downplay the very real and legitimate fears of New Yorkers.”

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Hochul’s address did not outline any specific policies, as she will be introducing her “ambitious” plans on January 10 in the annual “State of the State” speech at the start of the new state legislative session.