When Gov. Kathy Hochul ran for a full term last year, Republicans repeatedly raised the issue of crime and public safety concerns facing New Yorkers. 

She pivoted in January to making another push for changing the state's cashless bail, which had been a flashpoint in the election season. Six months later, Hochul this week said progress has been made in making the state safer. 

"Public safety — we're working on that, but we've made great strides," she said. 

Voters have routinely registered crime as a top-level concern for them. And Hochul has responded by seeking and winning two sets of bail law changes, including a provision this year that grants judges more discretion in setting bail in a wider array of cases. 

The changes are unlikely to defuse the issue for Democrats, and Republican Party leaders have signaled they still plan to make public safety a major theme for them in the 2024 election season. 

Hochul, meanwhile, also announced this week a drop in shootings statewide, though the numbers remain higher than pre-pandemic levels. Her touting of the crime statistics comes a year after she won an expansion of the law that is meant to remove guns from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. 

Republicans and law enforcement officials have criticized the changes for being relatively modest. But in a Democratic-led Legislature, securing any amendments would prove to be a challenge.  

"I knew I needed to return to judges the same discretion they had before and make sure the people who are re-committing the same offenses off the streets," Hochul told reporters this week. 

Lawmakers will soon be sending a bill to Hochul's desk that would seal an estimated 2 million criminal records after supporters of ending cash bail requirements decried a budget that expanded discretion measures. Hochul has pointed to the measure's support from business organizations — an indication she's likely to sign it.  

"This is driven by the business community at a time of great worker shortages, but we're going to have a lot of safeguards in place," Hochul said. 

Addressing crime has not necessarily split Democrats and Republicans. The records sealing measure, known as the Clean Slate Act, narrowly passed the Assembly.

Democrat Phil Steck was among those who voted against records sealing, pointing to the need for additional safeguards for prosecutors. Steck, however, is skeptical of the criticism of the cashless bail law and the use of public safety as an overarching political issue. 

"We need to stop propagandizing and buckle down and use the tools we have available and I think we can be successful," he said. "They know who are committing those crimes and we can direct resources in that area." 

Republicans, including Assemblyman Mike Reilly, criticized the approach on criminal justice, he says, as it aids people who break the law. 

"It seems like we give those who are criminals and those who are incarcerated more rights than the victims that they assault, that they murder," he said.