Kathy Hochul outlines key priorities after she’s sworn in as governor

New York Governor Kathy Hochul addressed the state Tuesday to outline her first priorities as governor, after she was sworn in just after midnight. Hochul, the first woman to hold the position, is taking over for Andrew Cuomo, who resigned after the state attorney general released a report backing multiple allegations of sexual harassment. 

Hochul said she was “Ready to get to work as your governor to solve the big problems that this state faces,” and said she would initially focus on combating the Delta variant, administering aid to New Yorkers and developing new ethics training for state government officials. 

She said she planned to require that all school personnel be vaccinated, with the option to test weekly as an alternative, and to mandate masks for anyone who enters the school. She also said New Yorkers “can expect new vaccine requirements,” but did not provide details.

Hochul also criticized the pace of relief funds being sent to New Yorkers, and pledged to work with state officials to speed up the process. 

While Hochul did not mention Cuomo by name in her address, she also said she planned to “overhaul” current policies on sexual harassment and ethics. She said all training will soon be required to be conducted live, not online, so that people cannot just “click their way through a class.”  Every New York state government employee will be required to complete ethics training, she said. 

Hochul became the state’s 57th governor at a brief, legally required ceremony in Albany on Tuesday morning. 

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Kathy Hochul, right, is sworn in as governor of New York, the first woman to hold the job, while her husband Bill Hochul holds a Bible, during a ceremony at the state Capitol in Albany just after midnight on August 24, 2021. HANS PENNINK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“It was a very emotional moment for me, and my family was there,” Hochul told CBS New York after the swearing-in. “I thought about all the women who came before me, including my mother who was not there, but a lot of women through history, and I felt they passed the torch to me.”

The Buffalo native is taking over as the state faces a number of crises, including getting COVID-19 under control, major problems with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the expiration of the state eviction moratorium at the end of the month.

“I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders, but I will tell New Yorkers I’m up for the task and I’m really proud to be able to serve as their governor and I won’t let them down,” she said.

Her swearing-in came three weeks after the state attorney general’s report on the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against then-governor Andrew Cuomo was released. A week later, Cuomo announced his resignation.

On Monday, he gave a final address to tout his successes over the last decade, while defending himself against sexual harassment allegations.

“The truth will come out in time,” he said.