Congressman Lee Zeldin Delivers State of the State Rebuttal Following Governor Hochul Address

Watch Congressman Zeldin’s rebuttal here.

NEW YORK – On Wednesday, January 5, 2022, following Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State Address, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), who has been named the presumptive nominee for Governor of New York by both the New York Republican and Conservative Parties, delivered his State of the State rebuttal to outline his vision for the future of New York.

During his 20-minute rebuttal, Congressman Zeldin stated, “Under the Cuomo-Hochul administration, punishing taxes and a skyrocketing cost of living, out-of-control crime, suffocating attacks on our freedom, and unending scandals resulted in New York leading the nation in residents fleeing. Unfortunately, New York’s current Governor Kathy Hochul and one-party rule in Albany have continued the attacks on your wallets, safety, freedoms, and kids’ education.

“We need political balance in Albany, we need to break the supermajority in the Assembly and Senate, and, equally as important, we need a geographic balance of power. Every New Yorker, no matter where they live, should feel like they have a voice and representation in our state capital.

“The bottom line is this: In November, we must Save Our State at the ballot box.”

30 of Congressman Zeldin’s proposals included:

• Repealing Cashless Bail, allowing judges discretion to weigh dangerousness, flight risk, past criminal records, and more when determining bail;

• Repealing the Less is More Act;

• Strengthening New York’s Freedom of Information Law by creating a strong automatic presumption of approval;

• Increasing transparency by expanding items that are automatically disclosed to the public;

• Ending the 3 persons in a room approach to governing and increasing the power, input and participation of rank and file legislators;

• Removing District Attorneys who do not enforce the law;

• Enacting a Law Enforcement Bill of Rights;

• Keeping qualified immunity for our men and women in blue;

• Reforming the New York State Board of Parole, by changing the composition of the board, requiring a unanimous vote instead of a simple majority, and requiring commissioners to review third party testimony from family/loved ones;

• Stopping Congestion Pricing;

• Making permanent the PFC Joseph Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program and expanding it to every county in the state;

• Lifting the cap on Charter Schools;

• Overhauling and simplifying the state education aid formula;

• Instituting longer-range budgeting to increase predictability and efficiency as well as making it easier to cut taxes and wasteful spending;

• Ending the punitive approach to COVID that obsesses over mandates, lockdowns, threats, fines and firings, as opposed to common-sense solutions that increase access to testing, treatment and more;

• Ending the ban on elective surgeries;

• Reversing the New York Health Department policy using race as a factor to deliver critical COVID treatment;

• Opposing the enactment of a COVID vaccine mandate for kids to attend school;

• Protecting gifted and talented programs in all New York schools;

• Banning divisive curriculums in classrooms;

• Ensuring kids have access to a quality education regardless of their race, religion or wealth;

• Opposing moves to remote education and ensuring our students are learning in person, in the classroom, full-time.

• Establishing a grade school apprenticeship program to give graduating students the option of earning an industry certificate;

• Making New York a primary home for cryptocurrency;

• Enacting term limits of two terms of four years each for Governor of New York;

• Lowering energy costs with our own natural resources;

• Prohibiting non-citizens from voting;

• Ending the multi-billion dollar program created last year for people illegally in the United States;

• Respecting the will of the people on the constitutional proposals on the November 2nd, 2021 ballot, by not enacting policies which fly in the face of their expressed wishes;

• Enacting statewide Voter ID.

These are just a few of the many initiatives Congressman Zeldin is championing to Save Our State.

Congressman Zeldin’s full remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good Afternoon my fellow New Yorkers. This is Congressman Lee Zeldin. I’m a proud, lifelong New Yorker, and I would be honored to serve as your next Governor.

This is the Empire State, rooted in a rich history, blessed with world-renowned landmarks, and bursting with unlimited potential. But for far too long, hard-working New York families have been abandoned by those sworn to serve them, harmed by Albany’s out-of-touch policies.

Under the Cuomo-Hochul administration, punishing taxes and a skyrocketing cost of living, out of control crime, suffocating attacks on our freedom, and unending scandals resulted in New York leading the nation in residents fleeing. Unfortunately, New York’s current Governor Kathy Hochul and one-party rule in Albany have continued the attacks on your wallets, safety, freedoms, and kids’ education.

We need political balance in Albany, we need to break the supermajority in the Assembly and Senate, and, equally as important, we need a geographic balance of power. Every New Yorker, no matter where they live, should feel like they have a voice and representation in our state capital.

The bottom line is this: In November, we must Save Our State at the ballot box.

Like so many of you, New York has always been my home. My wife and I are raising our twin 15-year-old daughters in the same working-class community where I grew up and now they attend the same public high school I did.

I learned early on in life the value of hard work. I was raised in a law enforcement household and my mother was a school teacher.

Most of my classmates growing up qualified for free and reduced lunch.

These were hardworking, salt of the earth New Yorkers in the William Floyd community, and they fought tooth and nail to provide for their families. Growing up in a working class community taught me one of the most important lessons of my life, because no one was just handed success. It had to be earned.

Our state is filled with stories of New Yorkers who through hard work, grit, and determination became homeowners, sent their kids to college and created a better life for the ones they loved.

However, today, we have a huge issue in this state. Far too many of you feel that in New York, right now, the American Dream is just too far out of reach.

At 18, when I arrived at college at SUNY Albany, there was one thing I knew I wanted for sure: To join the Army ROTC. I wanted to earn a commission in the military, go on active duty, and make military service a lifelong commitment. This service in many ways made me into the man and leader I am proud to be today.

After my twin daughters were born three and a half months prematurely, priorities changed quite a bit, but I stayed in the military, transferring to the Army Reserve where I still serve today. My love for public service gave me the opportunity to serve four years in the New York State Senate, and now I’m in my fourth term as a United States Congressman.
This same call to service is what drove me to run for Governor of New York. In every corner of our state, I have been hearing from scores of everyday people who are hitting their breaking point.

They’re looking at other states like Florida, the Carolinas, Texas and elsewhere where they believe their money would go farther, they would live life safer and freer. They’re looking at these states and asking themselves “why can’t we have that here in New York?” The answer is we can, but we need new leadership. We need a better direction for our state.

While listening to Kathy Hochul’s State of the State, you were probably wondering where was her plan to truly tackle rising crime in New York. Where was her workable plan to keep our communities safe?

Amidst record high crime numbers in New York City, Rochester and elsewhere, where was her unequivocal support for our men and women in blue?

You were probably also asking yourself what’s her obsession with doubling down on her punitive approach to COVID, always obsessing over new mandates, threats and firings. Enough!

Instead, we should be focused on positive ideas, working together, not pitting New Yorkers against each other, not ignoring the science when inconvenient, not instilling fear in the population, and not treating New Yorkers with such disrespect.

We need to stop forcing the science to follow the politics, instead of the other way around. We need to provide greater early access to treatment and aggressively pursue safe, new ways to treat COVID even better.

Governor Hochul did touch on recruiting more health care professionals into the workforce, which is pretty rich coming from the person who fired thousands of health care workers a little over 3 months ago. New Yorkers aren’t fooled by the fact she’s attempting to fix a problem she helped create.

Elective surgeries should have never been halted, the State Health Department shouldn’t be using race as a factor to distribute COVID treatment, and our state’s totally foreseeable – and still extremely fixable – testing debacle should have been avoided.

One of the items Governor Hochul did talk about was her sudden shift in position on term limits. Her convenient calls for term limits now are far behind the curve and clearly another calculation to follow whichever way the political winds blow.

During the reign of three-term Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Yorkers witnessed firsthand the rampant abuse and corruption that is born out of a system of limitless power. Yet, Cuomo’s Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul stood idly by in pathetic silence.

When the opportunity to ride Andrew Cuomo’s coattails to a third term as his Lieutenant Governor was politically expedient, she was mum on term limits.

Unfortunately, it was New Yorkers who paid the ultimate price – the thousands of seniors who died in nursing homes, the scores of women and others who suffered abuse during the Cuomo-Hochul Administration and the lives that were destroyed thanks to fear, intimidation and rampant corruption.

Where was Cuomo’s Lieutenant Kathy Hochul scandal after scandal after scandal? Was she complicit or out to lunch? Which one? She can choose, but there’s no third option.

As I have long stated, the position of Governor of New York should be term limited to two terms of four years each. I called on the state legislature to term limit me and even if they didn’t, I still wouldn’t serve more than two terms.

But term limits isn’t the only thing Kathy Hochul is changing her tune on. After months of running interference and protecting Andrew Cuomo’s corruption, unethical $5.1 million book deal, and using the Cuomo-Hochul Administration’s taxpayer funded staff to help write it, now she’s decided she wants to overhaul the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

In September, she appointed a commissioner to the committee minutes before the start of a meeting. Said commissioner turned around and immediately voted against repealing Andrew Cuomo’s $5.1 million book deal.

Ethics has gotten so bad in Albany that even the commission set up to make sure things are ethical has become corrupt.

Democrats are refusing to clean up Albany. Come hell or high water, I will.

As Governor, I would also strengthen New York’s Freedom of Information law by creating a strong presumption of approval, and I would increase transparency by expanding items automatically disclosed to the public. I would reform Albany’s 3 persons in the room approach to governing to increase the power of rank and file legislators and foster a healthier legislative process that encourages ideas, debate, sunlight and process. There are 213 elected state legislators and all of their constituents deserve to feel like they have a voice and representation in our state capital.

The status quo isn’t cutting it for New Yorkers, and I have heard your passionate pleas for government reform.

The same cannot be said for Kathy Hochul. In November 2021, New Yorkers resoundingly voted no on no excuse absentee balloting. They resoundingly voted no to eliminate the independent redistricting commission that lays the groundwork for our elections, but you know what Kathy Hochul has decided to do? Exactly the opposite.

A month after these two ballot proposals failed, she signed an executive order to override one, to override and ignore the will of New York voters and implement them anyway.

She announced she’s doing it again, overruling the will of the people and pushing for widespread mail in balloting.

Kathy Hochul is drunk on her own power and she cannot be allowed to get away with these moves that purposefully ignore the will of the people.

Furthermore, we should always strive to strengthen our state’s electoral system. That means enacting voter ID laws. It also means opposing noncitizens voting, like we’re seeing in New York City.

New Yorkers need a new generation of leadership that will address our state’s issues head on, not shy away from the realities on the ground.

A leader who will support our law enforcement more not less, and will stand with the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect all of us, especially in the crime ravaged communities that need their courageous service most.

Our state needs a Governor who will repeal cashless bail and the Less is More Act, because, right now, too many violent criminals and serial lawbreakers are on our streets instead of behind bars where they belong. Judges should have the discretion to weigh dangerousness, flight risk, past criminal records, and more when deciding bail.

District Attorneys should be removed from office if they are refusing to enforce the law, organized retail theft laws need to be strengthened, and antisemitic and anti-Asian violence must be confronted and crushed. As Governor, I would remove any District Attorney who refuses to do their job and enforce the law.

Our prisons shouldn’t be closed as a result of political calculation and left-wing pandering.

Support of law enforcement also means doing more to back up our corrections officers who are being attacked at work and set up to fail by Governor Hochul and one-party rule.

Albany should pass a law enforcement bill of rights, recognizing the inherent right of self-defense for law enforcement, making sure they have all of the tools and resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively, and that they aren’t unfairly targeted by investigations.

Qualified immunity should remain in place, all defund the police related proposals should fail, and the New York State Parole Board should be overhauled after all of their recent actions to release cop killers and murderers.

The parole board must be composed of board members who have proven to exercise good judgement, a decision to grant parole should be a unanimous one, not just a simple majority vote, and third party testimony from victims’ families and loved ones should be considered.

As Governor, I would do more to protect victims’ rights.

Also, instead of dispensing needles to drug users like candy, establishing new locations to shoot up and encourage drug users to press further, and closing the only state-run drug treatment facility, which New York is doing in two months, we need to do the opposite. We must truly tackle this heroin and opioid abuse epidemic through additional measures aimed at prevention, education, rehabilitation and treatment.

New Yorkers also need a new generation of leadership that not only knows what it’s like to raise a family under the punishing taxes and high cost of living in New York, but has solutions.

A leader who will lower taxes instead of raising them to the highest in the country for many New Yorkers, and will use every means possible to help them make ends meet. We need to level the playing field, end Albany’s policies that pick winners and losers in business, boost manufacturing upstate, make New York a home for crypto currency, stop the state from further decimating our agriculture economy with new overtime rules, ramp up effective broadband investment, stop congestion pricing, and lower energy costs with our own natural resources.

We absolutely must bring spending in this state under control and that includes longer-range budgeting, essential Medicaid reforms, and an end to the multi-billion dollar fund created last year for people not legally in our country. We also need smart, strategic government consolidation.

The revenue base should expand not by piling on even more taxes, but instead by improving our business climate and creating more good-paying jobs.

We also need able-bodied adults with jobs available to them to get back to work unless they have a very strong, specific, compelling reason to stay home. The government cannot incentivize people to stay home rather than work.

It is long overdue that we make New York affordable again and stop the skyrocketing cost of living for hardworking families.

We get to live our lives in the greatest country in the history of the world. I believe that American exceptionalism is something we should never apologize to anyone for. I know that one of the many ways Albany can do its part to better serve New Yorkers – especially our veterans – is by making permanent the PFC Joseph Dwyer Veteran Peer Support program and expanding it to every county in the state. I created this program as a New York State Senator in 2012 and it’s been a huge success, saving countless lives of our veterans who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury. It’s a peer support model that should be available in every corner of our state and all across our country because every veteran in need should have this resource available to them 24/7/365.

Whether it’s the need to better take care of New York’s disabled community or focusing on helping those experiencing homelessness get out of the shelter, rather than focusing our bandwidth on putting them in, we have so much more work to do in this state. From better tackling animal abuse to better protecting our environment, the list is endless on my to do list for this time next year when I hopefully take office as your next Governor.

New Yorkers need a new generation of leadership that will ensure COVID related healthcare decisions are kept between them and their doctors.

A leader who will end the draconian mandates that have been the hallmark of the Cuomo-Hochul Administration, and will champion common sense solutions. As Governor, I will address the healthcare worker shortage in New York, not make it worse and fire nurses who were hailed as heroes.

New Yorkers need a new generation of leadership that knows what it’s like to have school-aged children today in our state, especially during the era of remote learning.

A leader who will ensure parents remain in charge of their child’s education and upbringing, and will ban divisive curriculums in classrooms because our kids go to school for a quality education, not an indoctrination or brainwashing.

Let’s lift the cap on charter schools, overhaul the state education aid formula to make it simpler and predictable, truly tackle unfunded mandates, and let’s also make sure all kids have access to a quality education regardless of race, religion, or wealth. In NYC, former Mayor de Blasio worked overtime to deny extremely talented Asian students an opportunity to attend specialized schools, because he said he wanted the education system to look like America. That’s as disgusting as it gets.

As Governor, I will establish grade school apprenticeship programs to give graduating students the option of earning an industry certificate so they can go straight into the workforce and establish a successful career.

New Yorkers need a leader who will keep our schools open for in-person learning, who won’t require kids as young as two-years-old to be masked up all day long, who doesn’t believe we should require the COVID vaccine for kids to attend school, and who understands that our children have sacrificed too much these last two years physically, mentally, emotionally and developmentally. The Omicron variant is causing milder reactions than prior COVID strains. The current push to return to remote learning is a disgrace. Kids need to be learning in person, full-time, in the classroom.

We should also make sure that advanced academics, such as gifted and talented programs, stay in all New York schools. Some in government believe these programs should be removed in the name of equity. I couldn’t possibly disagree any more strongly.

November 8th, 2022, is more than just an election. It is the difference between feeling safe in your communities or becoming another statistic. It’s the ability to put food on the table, afford to fill up your gas tank and save for your family’s future.

This is last stand time, and we have no choice. Instead of throwing in the towel, we need to restore New York to glory.

It’s clear, the status quo isn’t working, and it’s going to take bold leadership, vision and unwavering determination to turn things around. We have to do this together.

I’m all in, and I need your help on November 8th, 2022 to Save Our State.



About Lee Zeldin
Lee Zeldin was born and raised on Long Island. He grew up in Suffolk County and graduated from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, where his identical twin daughters attend school today. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany and then his law degree from Albany Law School, becoming New York’s youngest attorney at the time at the age of 23.
Lee spent four years on Active Duty with the U.S. Army after completing ROTC and served in different capacities, including as a Military Intelligence Officer, Prosecutor, and Military Magistrate. In the summer of 2006, while assigned to the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division, Lee deployed to Iraq with an infantry battalion of fellow paratroopers in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In 2007, Lee returned to Suffolk County with his family. It was at this time that Lee transitioned from Active Duty to the Army Reserve, where he currently serves with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
In 2008, Lee established a successful law practice in Smithtown, NY. Elected to the New York State Senate two years later, in 2010, Lee’s been working hard every day since to keep the promises he made to the hard-working families he represents.
In the State Senate, Lee successfully fought to repeal the MTA Payroll Tax for 80 percent of employers, a job killing tax that was hurting small businesses. Lee led the successful efforts to repeal the Saltwater Fishing License Fee and create the PFC Joseph Dwyer Program, a statewide program in New York to help our returning veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Lee also wrote the law that protects our fallen veterans and their families from protests at military burials. 
Lee was then elected to the United States Congress in 2014, representing New York’s First Congressional District, and quickly became a leading voice in America on top local, domestic and foreign policy issues.
Lee has secured many key victories for Long Island, which have included among many other successes:
Saving Plum Island, by securing the repeal of a 2008 federal law requiring the island to be sold off to the highest bidder. He also secured funding to repair the historic Plum Island Lighthouse and funding necessary to remediate environmental concerns on the island. 
  • Delivering a $2 billion Electron Ion Collider project to Brookhaven National Lab.
  • Securing $8.3 billion in much needed funding to support treatment, enforcement, and prevention for those affected by the heroin and opioid abuse crisis.
  • Working with the Army Corps of Engineers to protect our coastlines, advancing the ambitious $1.5 billion Fire Island to Montauk Point project, in addition to several other vital projects on the north and south shores of Long Island.
  • Co-Chairing the Long Island Sound Caucus and delivering vast quantities of funding for the Long Island Sound Program, National Estuary Program and SeaGrant.
  • Introducing and passing into law his Adult Day Health Care legislation for disabled veterans and opening a new health care clinic for East End veterans.
  • Co-authoring a bipartisan resolution (H.Res. 246) that passed the House opposing the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.
  • Successfully resolving over 17,000 constituent cases in favor of NY-1 residents.
One of only two Jewish Republicans in Congress, Lee co-chairs the House Republican Israel Caucus, and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Financial Services Committee. He also serves on four House Subcommittees.
Lee and his wife, Diana, reside in Shirley with their twin fifteen-year old daughters, Mikayla and Arianna.