GovernmentThe Examiner

Hochul’s Delivers Wide-Ranging Address; Lawmakers Wait for Details

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project
Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers the 2024 State of the State address last week.

Several local state representatives applauded Gov. Kathy Hochul last week for identifying key areas of focus in her State of the State address but wanted to see more details in how several initiatives will be fulfilled.

Hochul’s hour-long wide-ranging speech centered on several key areas, including tackling the state’s housing crisis but without mandates, ensuring clean energy is affordable, protecting the state from extreme weather and cracking down on hate crimes, particularly with the rise in antisemitism and anti-Muslim incidents since the Hamas attacks on Israel in October.

The governor also highlighted two mental health proposals: providing a mental health clinic to every school that wants one to support children and teenagers and, for adults, adding 200 new psychiatric inpatient beds, coordinating law enforcement with crisis intervention teams similar to what is done in Westchester and increasing transitional and specialized housing.

“Every proposal announced today serves to improve our state and ensure our communities are not just surviving, but that they are thriving,” Hochul said.
“Our New York is our future, and the future is brighter than ever.”

Some of her comments on housing were directed at New York City to incentivize developers to build units that are more affordable, but she also proposed a $500 million capital fund to support the development of up to 15,000 units of housing on state-owned land throughout New York. There was no mention of mandates to local communities, which had been a flashpoint for local officials the last two years.

Hochul pledged to help protects residents flooding and hotter temperatures by making homes more resilient through expanding voluntary buyout programs and to overhaul building codes design. She said she will work toward major investments in disaster response and helping local governments to deal with the problem, while making schools and homes cooler for children and the medically vulnerable.

To protect New Yorkers against bias attacks, Hochul said more than 20 additional types of offenses, including gang assaults and graffiti, could be eligible for hate crimes in certain circumstances. The designation would allow for the increase in civil liability or criminal sentences.

Since Oct. 7, there has been a 95 percent increase in hate crimes against New York City’s Jewish residents and anti-Muslim offenses have skyrocketed as well.

“Our neighbors are being targeted on playgrounds, in synagogues, and on college campuses,” Hochul said. “I will not rest until every Jewish and Muslim child feels safe going to school or entering their house of worship.”

Reaction to the annual speech predictably fell along party lines, with Democratic legislators applauding her efforts. However, a couple of lawmakers said the specifics on funding and execution will be critical.

State Sen. Peter Harckham (D-Lewisboro) said he expects more details when she releases her Fiscal Year 2025 budget on Tuesday.

“Right now, we have challenges facing us with a deficit, affordability, a housing crisis and was really looking for a little bit more meat on the bone,” Harckham said.

The looming state deficit is projected at $4 billion, which is a concern for Harckham, and hopes his colleagues and the governor do not target education and health care, the two largest components of the

He was pleased with Hochul’s attention to mental health initiatives. Harckham wants the governor to help small businesses and to maintain the middle-class tax cuts.

Assemblyman Chris Burdick (D-Bedford) said he had an overall strong impression of Hochul’s address and believed she is committed to maintaining education funding.

“I was very pleased to see a continued commitment to robust funding for public education,” Burdick said. “I completely agree with her on the substantial funding to address the crisis in mental health.”

However, lawmakers are going to have to work hard and make difficult choices in closing the budget and Medicaid gaps, he said.

State Sen. Shelly Mayer (D-Yonkers) said she appreciated the governor’s attention toward helping residents deal with and recover from flooding episodes and her education proposals, including support for the Science of Reading.

“There have been far too many barriers to residents receiving the resources they need to repair and fortify their homes or to receiving buyouts, when necessary,” said Mayer, whose district includes the flood-prone Sound Shore. “I look forward to considering the details of the Resilient & Ready and Blue Buffers Programs, as well as Gov. Hochul’s plan to update building codes. These proposals are essential for ensuring residents are secure in their homes and that our communities are resilient.”

But Assemblyman Matt Slater (R-Yorktown) said Hochul offered few details on how she plans to prevent the exodus of New Yorkers to other states.

“We all agree affordability, public safety and education are important priorities but we heard nothing on cutting state spending, ending incentives to illegal immigration or stopping drug dealers from peddling fentanyl into our communities,” Slater said. “I’m hopeful in the coming weeks the governor will provide clear direction and details on how we can accomplish these important objectives while closing the state’s $4 billion budget deficit in a responsible manner.”

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.