Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul was at SUNY Cortland yesterday (February) to discuss Governor Cuomo’s FY-2021 Executive Budget proposals, including the controversial bail reforms that took effect at the turn of the new year.
“We are listening to people who have concerns and this is being debated right now by the highest levels of our state government,” Hochul said from a podium inside Brockway Hall’s Jacobus Lounge.
In attendance for her talk were dozens of local officials, students, professors and others from the community.
Cuomo’s entire budget is currently being debated during joint hearings of the state legislature, which began January 27 and run through next Thursday, February 13.
The particular controversy over the recent bail reforms is their elimination of pretrial detention and cash bail for more than 400 misdemeanor and non-violent felony cases, removing the power to set either from local judges and law enforcement officers.
As Hochul spoke, several members of Cortland County law enforcement were in Albany reaffirming their opposition to these reforms, standing alongside others from counties across the state.
Among the crowd were Sheriff Mark Helms, Undersheriff Bud Rigg and Homer Police Chief Bob Pitman, all three of whom were also in attendance at a conference in Syracuse last November where a swath of CNY-area law enforcement officers took a similar stand.
The all-CNY conference was held months before the policies concerning law enforcement were set to take effect in January – a month that ended up full of headlines, telling stories of suspectful jail releases and serious community safety concerns in every corner of the state.
Now a full week into February, these issues clearly aren’t going anywhere.
“There isn’t an answer yet, but I really wanted you [spectators] to understand the premise behind why we felt we needed reforms in the first place,” the Lt. Governor said during yesterday’s talk. “Safety is our main concern. It always will be our main concern.”
Hochul indicated before the event that she would be available to take questions afterwards, but instead had to leave immediately to make another appointment in Buffalo.
More on the governor’s full 2020 Executive Budget can be found here.