ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Gov. Kathy Hochul delivered the 2022 State of the State address, laying out her legislative priorities for the upcoming year. She announced plans to bolster New York’s healthcare workforce, bring back alcohol-to-go as a permanent option, help parents get back to work, and invest in downtown areas to keep New Yorkers from moving out of state.
The event opened with fanfare, a prayer, the pledge of allegiance, and an introduction from Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, who outlined the historic nature of Hochul’s address. Hochul acknowledged the history of the moment. As the first woman governor of the state, however, Hochul said, “I didn’t come to make history. I came to make a difference.”
The governor’s remarks quickly turned to COVID and COVID fatigue. Echoing the sentiments of her predecessor at his final State of the State, Andrew Cuomo, she said, “This is not a moment of despair, but a moment of possibility.” Throughout the address, she repeatedly referenced rebuilding New York for a new era.
Hochul said her administration is laser-focused on keeping kids in school, businesses open, and New Yorkers’ lives as normal as possible. As part of those efforts, Hochul said her administration is prioritizing people hit the hardest by the pandemic, namely frontline health care workers and medical responders.
Education and healthcare
In an effort to stop losing health care workers, she proposed retention bonuses of up to $3,000 per worker—making it easier for practitioners from out of state to practice in New York—and free tuition and stipends for healthcare workers who stay in the state after graduating. With a goal to grow the health care workforce by 20% over the next 5 years, she announced a $10 billion investment in healthcare—the largest in the state’s history—to make medical training easier and cheaper.
In education, Hochul plans to ramp up training and support for teachers, with faster certification and more mental health professionals in schools to better suit student needs. She also pointed to the SUNY and CUNY system, saying the state would work to recruit better faculty by investing in research facilities at Albany and Binghamton, and providing childcare on each campus. Her goal is to increase enrollment in the state system to 500,000 by 2030.
Middle class and business assistance
To help parents get back to work and aid a shrinking middle class, Hochul wants to expand access to affordable childcare to 100,000 more working families. She said the state will enact a $1.2 billion tax cut ahead of schedule, provide a $1 billion property tax rebate for 2 million middle-class homeowners, and invest $75 million in childcare worker wages.
Hochul outlined aid for small businesses to the tune of $100 million. And, “Cheers, New York!” she said while announcing a proposed return of alcohol-to-go from restaurants. To help businesses find staff, she spoke of rebooting the state’s workforce development office, funding worker training through regional economic development councils to offer worker training, and tying that funding to high job placement rates.
The state lost 300,000 residents last year, according to Census data, and Hochul says this cannot be ignored. As part of helping retention, she says the state will invest in its downtowns. She said she will work to position the state to be business-friendly and worker-friendly, offering new jobs and opportunities.
Turning to prison reform, Hochul announced a jails to jobs initiative to create opportunities for incarcerated people to find work after release and reduce recidivism. She also said the state would restore a tuition assistance program for incarcerated people, ending a 30-year ban.
She said the state would embark on infrastructure projects the likes of which we’ve never seen. Upgrades are in store for transit and transportation hubs in New York City, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester. She also announced $1 billion in digital infrastructure funding for high-speed internet.
Hochul said the state would work on practical strategies to combat gun violence with State Police, and local enforcement agencies—including from neighboring states. She said a new consortium will triple the resources for gun-tracing efforts.
She also addressed homelessness and the real estate market. Hochul said a new five-year housing plan will create 100,000 affordable homes, with 10,000 units for high-risk populations, like runaway youth and formerly incarcerated individuals.
And to instill a greater sense of trust in government, Hochul said the state will apply two-term limits to elected officials, ban their outside income, and replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. You can read the governor’s entire plan below: