Governor Hochul outlines agenda in State of the State address

Governor Hochul outlines agenda in State of the State address

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul shared her agenda in her State of the State address on Tuesday as she focused on finance, crime, and education policies ahead of a pivotal election season in a state whose races could determine control of Congress.

Governor Hochul began by noting despite some rockiness, the state of New York has safer, affordable, and more liveable. However, she said there is more work to be done in those fields.

Hochul has spent the last week debuting pillars of her agenda, calling for an overhaul of literacy education and paid medical leave during pregnancy, among other things. In these field, she proposes the state focus more on the health care system, mental health, expanding access to affordable high-quality education, and a “Back to Basics” reading plan.

She also announced there will be a focus on increasing the housing supply, making the state more affordable, and initiatives to combat crime such as retail theft, gun violence, domestic violence, and hate crimes.
The address came as both Republicans and Democrats place increased attention on New York as a potential battleground state for the U.S. House in November, adding a level of national importance to the governor’s agenda this year.

For Hochul, one major priority is reaching a deal with progressive statehouse Democrats to create more housing supply in the state, a politically vexing problem that has previously proven elusive but remains a tenant of her affordability plans.

This year, Hochul introduced a four-part proposal to help New York City increase its housing supply, support the development of thousands of housing units on state-owned land, and take action against housing discrimination.

The governor last year pushed hard on a housing plan that eventually failed after it was panned in the city’s suburbs, which have emerged as must-win areas for congressional Democrats in the fall if they want to retake control of the House.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told reporters that Senate Democrats were pushing for a housing package that focuses on tenant protection. In the past, those have included measures to prevent landlords from evicting residents without a so-called good cause, such as failure to pay rent.

Another issue for lawmakers this year will be how they handle a large influx of migrants into the state, particularly New York City, since 2022. So far, the state has allocated $1.9 billion in emergency spending related to the surge of asylum seekers, according to recent data from the Office of the State Comptroller.

Hochul has pledged another round of financial assistance this year to help the city house, transport and provide medical care to migrants.

Other issues the governor aims to tackle in 2024 include inclusivity and diversity, strengthening the agricultural industry, better transit, and a future of clean energy and natural resources.

The legislative session also included a contentious congressional redistricting process that could have a major impact on which party controls the House.

A bipartisan redistricting commission submitted a proposed map to lawmakers at the end of February, which can then be accepted or altered by Democrats who control the Legislature. Democrats are widely expected to try to give their party an advantage in crucial districts ahead of the fall elections.

Democrats have dedicated major financial and campaign resources toward their goal of retaking a handful of congressional districts in New York in November. Republicans are aiming to hold onto the seats.

The first bellwether could come soon: A special election of a successor to George Santos, the New York Republican who was expelled from the House, will be held on Feb. 13.

(Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)