Photo Courtesy of Darren McGee/Office of the Governor
Governor Hochul delivered the State of the State in the Assembly.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Outlining what she called “a new era” for NY, Gov. Kathy Hochul recently delivered an ambitious State of the State address.
“As the first woman to present a State of the State address in New York, I want to make it clear I am not just here to make history—I am here to make a difference,” Hochul said in the Assembly.
The governor’s plan features nine key components: rebuilding the healthcare economy; protecting public safety and addressing gun violence; investing in New York’s people; investing in New York’s communities; making New York’s housing system more affordable, equitable, and stable; making New York a national leader in climate action and green jobs; rebuilding New York’s teacher workforce and reimagining higher education; advancing New York’s place as a national equity model; and making critical reforms to restore New Yorkers’ faith in their government.
Hochul’s New Era for New York Agenda:
Rebuild the Healthcare Economy to Provide Care for More New Yorkers
Over the next five years, Hochul’s plan will rebuild and grow the healthcare workforce by 20 percent, according to the administration. $10 billion will be invested in the state’s healthcare sector, including more than $4 billion to support wages and bonuses for healthcare workers. Additionally, this plan will improve the career pipeline, expand access to healthcare training and education, recruit care workers to underserved areas, and strengthen home care.
Protect Public Safety and Take Strong Action against Gun Violence
This public safety initiative will provide state and local law enforcement with tools necessary to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence. Hochul’s proposed plan will invest in public safety and fund state and local policing gun safety efforts, create the Interstate Gun Tracing Consortium, and triple investment in community-based gun violence response.
Invest in New York’s People
Hochul’s plan will accelerate the phase-in of $1.2 billion in middle class tax cuts for 6 million New Yorkers by two years – to 2023 – and establish a $1 billion property tax rebate program to put money back into the pockets of more than 2 million New Yorkers who have had to endure rising costs as the pandemic has progressed. The Governor will also deliver a tax rebate for 2 million New York families and increase existing tax credits and create new ones to support food production. Hochul’s efforts will also bring about $100 million in tax relief for 195,000 small businesses across New York State she said.
Hochul’s seven-pronged initiative will overhaul workforce development to focus on regional needs, expand access to new careers and career services, and recruit the next generation of New York’s labor force. As part of this plan, the governor said she will create the Office of Workforce and Economic Development, help New Yorkers move between education and careers, expand access to apprenticeships, recruit the next generation of public servants, expand the state’s technology talent pipeline, make New York a model for the employment of workers with disabilities, and protect and strengthen worker’s rights.
Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals are often left to their own devices upon reentrance into society. With the ‘Jails to Jobs’ program, these individuals will be connected with education, resources, and opportunities for job placement, which will improve public safety and reduce recidivism.
Invest in New York’s Communities
The Interborough Express is a historic project that would use the existing right of way of the Long Island Rail Road owned Bay Ridge Bridge to connect transit deserts in Brooklyn and Queens. This line would connect commuters to as many as 17 subway lines, expanding access to jobs and other destinations. Hochul’s plan is to move forward with the expansion by directing the Metropolitan Transit Authority to begin the environmental review process.
After the hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hochul’s billion-dollar rescue plan will invest in the growth and retention of small businesses of the future, small business tax credits for businesses that took on COVID-related expenses, seed funding to establish new businesses, provide flexible grants to early-stage small businesses, expand small business lending, and help small businesses secure contracts, she said. The governor said she also plans to propose legislation to permanently allow the sale of to-go drinks in bars and restaurants.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed how inaccessible and unreliable broadband connection was for many New Yorkers, who suddenly were forced to live their lives through the internet. It is essential that all New Yorkers have equitable access to the internet, as marginalized communities are most affected by this lack of broadband access. The $1 billion ConnectALL initiative will deliver affordable broadband to millions of New Yorkers and transform the state’s digital infrastructure through new investments.
Make New York’s Housing System More Affordable, Equitable, and Stable
Our housing system is riddled with systemic inequalities that need to be addressed. Hochul’s said housing plan will tackle these and use public funding to expand opportunity for all. Initiatives to expand housing include utilizing Safe Options Support teams of trained mental health practitioners that will assist in transitioning individuals living on the street into stable housing, ending the 421-a tax abatement and establishing a new, more effective program, improving housing access for renters with criminal records or negative credit history, creating an eviction prevention legal assistance program, and creating a permanent disaster recovery and resiliency unit for home rebuilding.
Hochul promised to implement a comprehensive five-year housing plan, a $25 billion effort to create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes, including 10,000 homes with support services for vulnerable populations. To increase access and affordability in New York’s housing market, Hochul will also take major steps to construct new housing and increase density in appropriate urban areas. These steps include permitting accessory dwelling units in single-family neighborhoods, kick-starting transit-oriented development, giving New York City the authority to encourage densification, and easing restrictions on converting hotels and offices to housing.
Make New York a National Leader in Climate Action and Green Jobs
Buildings account for more than a third of New York’s climate pollution. Hochul’s plan to achieve a minimum of 1 million electrified homes and up to 1 million electrification-ready homes is anchored by a series of legislative and policy actions. These include requiring zero on-site greenhouse gas emissions for new construction no later than 2027, providing the training programs necessary to ensure that the state has a skilled workforce to deliver these services, establishing a dedicated green electrification fund and electrifying low-income homes through the housing capital plan, among others.
Hochul announced plans to invest in offshore wind infrastructure, procure enough wind energy to power at least 1.5 million homes, initiate planning for an offshore wind transmission network, and launch the offshore wind Master Plan 2.0 Deep Water. This will ensure that the state has the strongest offshore wind energy market along the Eastern Seaboard. Hochul said that her plan for offshore wind will support more than 6,800 jobs, a combined economic impact of $12.1 billion statewide, and more than 4.3 gigawatts of energy, enough to power nearly 3 million homes in New York.
Rebuild New York’s School System and Reimagine Higher Education
To rebuild New York’s teacher workforce, Governor Hochul plans to emphasize recruiting and retaining teachers throughout the state. The Governor will also take action to accelerate the teacher certification process and increase funding for K-12 education. This plan also includes providing incentives to attract teachers and school workers, providing learning and mental health grants, creating a state teacher residency program, and upskilling teacher support workers to earn their certifications.
Increase Access to Childcare for 100,000 Families and Invest $75 Million in Wages for Childcare Workers.
Affordable childcare is essential to give children the best possible chance at success while providing parents the ability to participate in the workforce. While Hochul said she believes that the federal government must pass Build Back Better to expand childcare coverage for New York families, if they do not she will propose an expansion of access to childcare. This would impact 100,000 families across New York by increasing eligibility from 200 percent of the federal poverty line to 225 percent. The Governor’s plan also includes a $75 million in better pay for childcare workers.
Hochul’s called her plan to revitalize the State University of New York System wide ranging and extensive. The plan includes making the institution a global leader on research and innovation, ensuring SUNY serves students well, and prioritizing equality within the SUNY system. This transformation will set students on a path to economic success and focus on equity so that all may thrive with a SUNY education.
Advance New York’s Place as a National Equity Model
The Equity Agenda will advance a wide-ranging plan to promote and support gender equity, racial equity, anti-hate, social justice, the LGBTQIA+ community, immigrants and new arrivals, and veterans with the goal of protecting the health, safety, economic opportunities, and fundamental dignity of every New Yorker—in short, to make the New York Dream into a reality.
Make Critical Reforms to Restore New Yorker’s Faith in Their Government
By introducing a constitutional amendment, Hochul plans to limit the roles of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller to two consecutive terms. The governor said she will also propose legislation to impose a ban on earned outside income for the same statewide elected officials, with an exception for academic positions that must receive ethics board approval.
Hochul noted that she plans to introduce legislation to repeal and replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics with an ethics entity that is truly independent and transparent. This entity will be subject to Freedom of Information Law requests and the Open Meeting Laws, increasing and improving transparency, she pledged. This plan will also ban outside communications so that members of the entity will be prohibited from participating in ex-parte communications regarding any potential or ongoing investigation.
“Andrew Cuomo may have left in disgrace, but the policies that destroyed our state under his watch are in full force. The cozy corrupt cabal in the halls of the capital is still intact,” said NY GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy in his response to Hochul’s speech. “For the last seven years, Kathy Hochul sat in the shadow of Andrew Cuomo. Her office… just steps from his. She was his loyal lieutenant who said nothing and did nothing to challenge him–even in the face of blatant corruption and gross incompetence. She might not scream and threaten like Cuomo, but she is no less of an operator. You’d have to be, to remain in his orbit for as long as she did. You know what they say…lie down with dogs and wake up with fleas. Kathy Hochul turned a blind eye to protect her own power and now there is nothing this accidental governor won’t do to keep it. That’s not integrity, that’s complicity.”