June 23, 2024
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul is a Guest on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation With Reverend Al Sharpton

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul is a Guest on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation With Reverend Al Sharpton

Governor Hochul: “This should be a national policy. If the federal government followed what we're doing here in New York, we could have a healthier next generation of young people who emerge from their teenage years, which are stressful anyhow. But to see in the last few years the number of teenagers, especially teenage girls, who are contemplating suicide – they're depressed, they're isolated, and it all goes back to not just them looking at social media sites – I didn't say that – I’m talking about the companies intentionally collecting personal information from our children and using it to weaponize these algorithms, bombarding them with addictive messages that pull them in deeper.”

Hochul: “I'm a mom – first mom Governor of New York. And so, I'm saying this: I know what it's like to raise children. We have to give them help. And a young woman who had – I was talking to at one of my roundtables, said, ‘You've got to save us from ourselves. We don't know how to stop.’ And I said, ‘It’s not you. They're doing this intentionally and we're going to help you.’ And that's what this legislation will do.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul was a guest on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation with Reverend Al Sharpton.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Reverend Al Sharpton, MSNBC:  Let's turn now to New York State, which, like most of the eastern seaboard, is in the grips of a heat wave that has lasted for seven days now, with more than 100 million people under heat advisory alerts. Joining me now in studio to talk about this and other issues is the esteemed Governor of the State of New York, Kathy Hochul. Governor, thanks for coming on.

Governor Hochul: Always great to see you, Reverend Al, especially in person.

Reverend Al Sharpton, MSNBC: Yes, it is a pleasure to have you in studio. What is the state doing right now to protect people from this intense heat wave, especially seniors and people living in low-income areas?

Governor Hochul: As you said, Reverend Al, we are in the throes of a heat wave, the likes of which we've never seen, these high temperatures at this early date in the year. So, we're not just doing something now, we've been preparing for the last 10 days, knowing that this could be a deadly event. Fortunately, we don't have any recorded loss of life, but our seniors are the most vulnerable. And I'm getting messages out about people taking care of their senior neighbors, checking in on them, making sure that they have plenty of water staying out of the heat, but also, it's children and pets.

So, we have been ready. We had the National Guard on call. We've worked with all the local county governments to make sure that we could support their cooling centers and getting the word out. I even offered a free admission to our state parks and beaches over a couple of days this week just to let people beat the heat.

We're getting through it. But I will say this, it is not over. This is the new normal. So, we are always preparing for the worst-case scenario, which is why I had intensive incident command center meetings with my entire team to say, “Let's game out. What if it becomes 120 degrees? What if we have people overflowing in hospitals? Are they ready?” So, we're always prepared for the worst, but I hate to say this. We better get used to this. The way climate has changed so dramatically, we are feeling the effects in real time. And so, we're always vigilant.

We're experiencing tornadoes. Right now, tornado warnings in Upstate New York. Rather uncommon for this time of year.

Reverend Al Sharpton, MSNBC: And some still don't believe in climate control. As you are saying, many experts believe the high temperatures were all that we are seeing are the result of climate change. You took some criticism earlier this month for pausing congestion prices in New York City, a program meant to reduce greenhouse emissions by discouraging car travel in high traffic areas and bolstering public transportation. And then on the other hand, I was in some of the discussions people were concerned about those that were could not afford certain things. How did you make the decision? And what is the future of congestion pricing plan?

Governor Hochul: Since I've been Governor, no one can question my commitment to doing whatever we can in our power to stop emissions, to reduce greenhouse emissions everywhere. I'm bringing clean hydroelectric power down from Canada, bringing wind and solar in from the Hudson Valley. We're bringing in offshore wind, so we are converting our whole grid to clean energy, which is so important.

But also, it's what are we doing to our residents, our citizens? We're hearing their cries for relief. Putting on an additional cost of $15 at this moment, when people are going to the grocery stores, and they're shocked how much less they can buy with the same amount of money week after week. They just received word in New York City, their water rates are going up. The rent stabilization board just went up. So, how much can we do in state government to relieve the burden and the pain that our citizens are feeling? We cannot be tone deaf to them at this time.

But my commitment to public transportation is second to none. I orchestrated the bailout of the MTA last year. We will get these projects done and there's other ways to mitigate congestion, but not right now on the backs of hardworking New Yorkers who are just taking it on the chin.

Reverend Al Sharpton, MSNBC: We're, so we're saying there's not one or the other is how do we do it both and take care—

Governor Hochul: Of course, we can. There's no lack of creativity. And for people to say that there's this effect on our climate tomorrow because we suspended this particular program – I can think of half a dozen ways we can while dealing with congestion, why people are driving in. But the other issue is this. We are not fully recovered from the pandemic. No place was harder hit than New York City. Now that we have remote work options. When someone says to their employer, I'd rather not spend the $3,800 a year to come in extra because of congestion price. They may opt to stay in their suburban homes. That is not healthy for our recovery.

So, let's focus on the big picture here. But also, I'm committed to our environment. I'm committed to the public transportation more than anyone and we'll be able to fund these projects and take care of our environment at the same time. They're not mutually exclusive.

Reverend Al Sharpton, MSNBC: Let me raise another issue. You're working right now with New York City Mayor Eric Adams and other state lawmakers to explore a possible crackdown on masks, especially on public transit. You cited concerns about antisemitic attacks and crime that we've seen that all of us have denounced while critics have argued mask ban could be bad for public health and could infringe on religious expression and other civil liberties. Where does the mask ban idea stand at the moment?

Governor Hochul: This was as a result of just the horror that people experienced when they saw people with masks coming on a subway train, threatening and intimidating innocent passengers. But also, I immediately said, “If there is to be consideration of a mask ban, we of course will make accommodations for health.” If people want to wear surgical masks on the subway, go ahead and do it. Probably people who have less colds, less cases of COVID, that's fine.

I also said, “Religious exemptions are critical.” People have that right to free expression, and I want to make sure no one feels that is altered – even free speech. We didn't say you can't do it at a protest. But the current law, the law that was suspended just a couple years ago said you couldn't wear a mask even while loitering. So, I said, “No, I want to stop crimes. I want to make sure that no one can mask their identity.” Because it is really even with all—

Reverend Al Sharpton, MSNBC: And hate crimes—

Governor Hochul: And hate crimes and threats of people. People have a right to be safe on our public transportation, walking down the streets in their places of worship. And no one should be able to hide under the cover of almost a full-face mask to commit these atrocities against fellow New Yorkers. That's where we have to draw the line.

Reverend Al Sharpton, MSNBC: Now, this week you signed a bill that would limit children's access to social media feeds based on suggested content rather than the accounts they actually follow. You've called these feeds addictive and potentially harmful. Attorney General Letitia James is now charged with crafting the legal language for these rules, which will no doubt be challenged in court by major tech companies. Why did you take this action and what could it mean for the future of social media, not only in New York, but nationally around the country?

Governor Hochul: Thank you for the question. This should be a national policy. If the federal government followed what we're doing here in New York, we could have a healthier next generation of young people who emerge from their teenage years, which are stressful anyhow. But to see in the last few years the number of teenagers, especially teenage girls, who are contemplating suicide – they're depressed, they're isolated, and it all goes back to not just them looking at social media sites – I didn't say that – I’m talking about the companies intentionally collecting personal information from our children and using it to weaponize these algorithms, bombarding them with addictive messages that pull them in deeper.

So, we have to stop that. I'm a mom – first mom Governor of New York. And so, I'm saying this: I know what it's like to raise children. We have to give them help. And a young woman who had – I was talking to at one of my roundtables, said, “You've got to save us from ourselves. We don't know how to stop.” And I said, “It’s not you. They're doing this intentionally and we're going to help you.” And that's what this legislation will do.

Reverend Al Sharpton, MSNBC: Before I let you go, Governor, you are a Biden co-chair, and so, I'm curious what you'd like to hear from the President at the debate Thursday, especially on the subject of guns. I know you were quite pleased with the Supreme Court ruling this week, keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. What do you hope to hear in the debate?

Governor Hochul: All the President has to do is talk about how he is the one fighting for public safety. Republicans think that they own this message. Donald Trump thinks he owns this message. But you cannot be serious about fighting crime if you're not serious about getting guns off the streets, which is a high priority of President Biden's.

Also, I'm not going to high five the Supreme Court. They never should have even – there never should have even been a question in our nation that a domestic abuser would have a right to a gun. My God, what have we come to? And they're basing that on a Supreme Court decision one year ago. Think about this: Donald Trump's Supreme Court said that I, as the Governor, don't have a right to have a law that was on the books for 100 years that says you cannot have concealed carry weapons in public spaces.

They struck down our law. So, the Supreme Court is going back and forth on this. Who knows what they'll do next, whether they're going to continue stripping away women's rights – our nation right now, one out of three women live under an abortion ban. That is the one promise Donald Trump kept. He committed to undoing the rights that we've enjoyed for 50 years under Roe v. Wade. He wiped them out.

So, at this debate, there is so much material for President Biden to talk about against Donald Trump, but he's got a great record of accomplishment. There are 50,000 new jobs coming to New York State. It's one of our hardest hit areas because he worked to bring – help me – bring semiconductor businesses right here in New York.

Infrastructure projects, projects to help people live a more affordable life. So, contrast to his record with what we dealt with in the past, and I think ultimately, when people go to the polling places this November, they need to remember this: those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

We know what we're going to expect with Donald Trump, except he'll be feeling even more liberated than ever to conspire against our democracy, as he said he will do. Joe Biden is the firewall against our dissent into chaos even further. We need him elected, we need the country to rally behind him, and this fever will break. All this excitement about Donald Trump, it's going to break, and he will actually fight for our American values.

Reverend Al Sharpton, MSNBC: New York Governor, Kathy Hochul, thank you for being with us tonight.

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