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Reactions to Hochul's State of the State address


Wed, Jan 5th 2022 06:50 pm

State leaders offered response to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State address.

•Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “I am proud that Gov. Hochul returned the State of the State address to the People’s House.

“It has been two years since New York became the epicenter of this global health crisis, and – evidenced by my own positive COVID-19 test – we are not out of the woods yet. Throughout the pandemic, we have fought tirelessly to restore New York to the place we know and love – to support our mom-and-pop shops and local restaurants, to keep our friends and neighbors in their homes, to strengthen the safety net for our most vulnerable communities, and to support students and schools.

“The governor outlined numerous proposals in her address, and in the coming weeks we will be reviewing them so that together we can improve the lives of all New Yorkers. In the Assembly, we have and always will put families first and fight for the everyday needs of the people we represent. I look forward to working with Gov. Hochul and my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate to keep our kids in school, get New Yorkers back to work, and ensure that everyone has a chance to grow and thrive.

•Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said, "Kathy Hochul took over as governor at a time of great challenge in New York state and immediately demonstrated her leadership, competence and more collaborative style. Her State of the State message today continued her thoughtful, common-sense approach to governing.

"My office has detailed the stronger-than-expected economic recovery taking place here in New York. Local sales tax receipts continue to improve, the unemployment rate continues to fall, and the state – with the addition of important federal funding – has a relatively strong fiscal footing. These are positive developments for New York as we begin 2022, but my office has also identified economic sectors that are still struggling and will need the state to continue its role addressing the health and economic effects of the pandemic.

“The pandemic is stretching into a third year and the need for real, hands-on leadership is crucial at this point in our history to beat back the virus and to safely get us back to a more normal way of life. Based on what I’ve seen in these last four months and from what I heard today from her State of the State, I’m confident Gov. Hochul can help us achieve this. I look forward to working with her and moving New York forward."

•New York State Association of Counties President Marte Sauerbrey said, “Today, Gov. Kathy Hochul laid out a wide-ranging agenda to move New York forward and tackle the immense challenges that our state faces as it confronts a stubborn pandemic and unsettled economy. Counties welcome the new spirit of cooperation that the governor brings to this moment and we look forward to working with her in the legislative session to advance our shared goals of ending the pandemic, strengthening our public health care system, developing our workforce to meet the needs of the modern economy, supporting local businesses and reversing our recent population decline. As has been proven over and over throughout this extraordinary period of history: While state leaders make laws and policies, it’s often up to counites to get it done. In the coming weeks, we’ll be working with the governor and the Legislature to ensure that counties have the resources and flexibility we need to build a better New York state.”

Dutchess County Executive the Hon. Marcus Molinaro, president of the NYS County Executives Association, said, "After two years of battling a global pandemic and responding to the economic, political and social turmoil that came with it, our state of the state is in need of repair. As county leaders, we look forward to forging a renewed partnership with the state to address the health care needs of our residents, strengthen our local businesses, invest in our infrastructure, protect our environment, and restore the integrity of government. New Yorkers are resilient. We can and we will rise above the challenges we face and, working together with mutual respect, we can rebuild our economies, reinforce the ties that unite us, and renew the promise of New York state for future generations."

The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving all the counties of New York state, including the City of New York.

•New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, “Gov. Hochul announced sweeping investments for agriculture in her first State of the State address. Her goals match what our farmers are seeking: a strengthening of our local food system, financial support for climate smart practices happening on farms across the state, and easing the burden of rising labor costs that are crushing New York agriculture and limiting production. We applaud her for making agriculture a focus of her agenda.

“New York’s farms play an essential role in feeding our state, providing good jobs on and off the farm, and supporting local economies. New York Farm Bureau looks forward to seeing the details in the governor’s budget proposal and working with her and the state legislature on these goals that will allow agriculture to grow for the benefit of our entire state.”

New York Farm Bureau is the state’s largest agricultural lobbying/trade organization.

•New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said, “Gov. Hochul has brought a breath of fresh air to Albany. Her agenda sets ambitious goals for addressing the issues our state faces.

“The promise to fully fund Foundation Aid is a momentous first step toward supporting our public schools as the center of every community. Pledges to boost mental health supports and staffing levels mark a clear commitment to meeting the social-emotional needs of students. The governor also is heeding the prepandemic calls of educators to address staffing shortages in schools statewide and to diversify the education workforce by finding innovative ways to get more New Yorkers to take a look at teaching as a career. We will continue working with her administration to bring to life our ‘Future Forward’ agenda for public schools this year.

“It is positive to see Gov. Hochul prioritize higher education and health care and propose ways to address the financial barriers that stand in the way of more New Yorkers obtaining a postsecondary education. We look forward to digging further into the details of her agenda for SUNY and CUNY.

“We await the governor’s budget proposal later this month, and we’ll continue advocating throughout the legislative session on behalf of our members in education, human services and health care who day in and day out selflessly dedicate themselves to the New Yorkers they serve.”

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

•New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Robert Schneider said, “NYSSBA greatly appreciates the collegial tone set by Gov. Hochul in her first State of the State address, as well as her focus on substantive proposals to overcome the key challenges faced by school districts.

“We praise Gov. Hochul’s commitment to stabilizing New York’s financial partnership with school districts with a plan to fully fund Foundation Aid by the 2023-24 school year. That promise offers a critical measure of stability at a time when school districts are coping with constant waves of change and unpredictability.

“In addition, we stand behind Gov. Hochul’s focus on supporting our educational workforce, especially as we navigate through the pandemic and beyond. Her pledge to help the State Education Department rebuild its professional staffing levels, particularly for teacher certification, holds much promise for easing the bottlenecks and red tape that now plague New York’s certification and preparation process. 

“NYSSBA shares the governor's view that providing a high-quality education must include meeting the mental health needs of our students, renewing our focus on providing career and technical educational opportunities, and providing ongoing support for reliable broadband service. The state's assistance in these areas will be instrumental in helping our students achieve successful futures. 

“Finally, we would like to note that the emphasis Gov. Hochul is placing on striving to keep our students in school as a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds is particularly welcome and critical at this moment. 

“We look forward to the governor’s further illumination of her vision and agenda when she presents her 2022-23 budget proposal later this month. NYSSBA and its members are energized by the promise of new opportunities for school districts to work in partnership with the governor, the Legislature and state education officials to provide strong and broad educational opportunities for all students.

The New York State School Boards Association represents more than 670 school boards and more than 5,200 school board members in New York.

•Public education advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education’s executive director, Jasmine Gripper, said, “Gov. Hochul’s acknowledgement of many challenges students and schools are facing, with proposed solutions for tackling them, is a heartening change of tone from the executive office. The investments she detailed for public schools and education are crucially important for New York’s communities and future. But her proposals today fall short of what is needed to address the crisis in child care and adequately support families.

“We applaud Gov. Hochul for reaffirming her commitment to school funding equity and the full funding of the Foundation Aid formula. Fully funding public schools is essential to addressing the long-term academic, social and mental health impacts that the pandemic has had on children, especially for the Black, brown and low-income children, whose schools were the most under-resourced prior to COVID, and whose communities were hardest hit by the pandemic.

“The mental health grants and pilot programs to create a positive school climate are key to providing the much-needed support for children, and a long-overdue step on disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. We need to be sure that investments in students’ mental health and wellbeing are sufficient to meet the growing need.

“On child care, however, we are disappointed to see that the governor’s proposals, though a minor step in the right direction, are very far from what New York’s families need. While it is important that Gov. Hochul acknowledges the crisis in child care, New York needs to be proactive in supporting families who are in desperate need of support and access to quality and affordable child care. Families who have been on waiting lists for two to three years to get a spot in a child care facility cannot be told they must continue to wait. We’ve seen the dysfunction in Washington; New York state has the resources to act now. Gov. Hochul needs to step in and make a robust investment in expanding child care. After touring the state and seeing the vast need, we know that helping only 100,000 families is not enough to make a dent in the child care deserts that exist across the state.

“New York’s families need a bold investment of $5 billion in child care. Families need access to a universal system, and providers and teachers need to be paid for the service they provide.”

•Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg said, “Fully 2.17 million state residents – including one out of six of the state’s children and one out of 13 of the state’s adult workers – struggle against hunger. One in eight state residents lived below the meager federal poverty line of $21,720 per year for a family of three. Because hungry and impoverished people are more like to contract and die from all COVID variants, the twin poverty and hunger crises fuel the pandemic.

“While Gov. Hochul took some preliminary steps to address hunger before this speech – such as making it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to obtain federal-funded SNAP nutrition benefits and enabling some restaurants to accept SNAP for some populations – her speech and policy announcements today did little to build on those limited first steps to address the state’s hunger and poverty epidemics. That is a huge, missed opportunity.

“While we appreciate some of the proposals the governor announced today to address homelessness, help farmers, and enable more veterans to receive SNAP benefits, those efforts will only marginally dent food insecurity and poverty in the state.

“In particular, it is disappointing that Gov. Hochul did not propose easy antihunger and antipoverty steps that would either be free or low-cost for the state, such as: eliminating a sub-minimum wage for restaurant workers, making it easier for people to obtain food and poverty benefits online, launching a public/nonprofit partnership to increase participation in SNAP and WIC (nutrition supplements for pregnant women and children under 5), and/or increasing access to federal-funded school breakfasts for low-income children.

“We hope Gov. Hochul does more and better in the weeks and months ahead.”

•Parks & Trails New York said, “At today’s State of the State address, Gov. Hochul charted a bold vision for continuing the great investments in recent years that New York state has made in our parks, trails and shared green space over the past decade.

“We are excited by the many initiatives she proposed to continue this work, including:

√ “Increasing the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Bond Act to $4 billion, providing critical funding for climate change mitigation;

√ “Committing capital funding for core state park improvements, rebuilding the capacity of our parks;

√ “Completing the Albany Skyway and replacing the Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge in Albany, connecting pedestrians and bicyclists to, and providing a safe pathway across, the Hudson River;

√ “Advancing the ROC the Riverway project, including through the creation of Rochester High Falls State Park along the Genesee River in downtown Rochester;

√ “Completing the 51-mile Westchester RiverWalk by closing a crucial 1-mile gap in Tarrytown, increasing access to the riverfront and to nearby historic sites; and

√ “Continuing to the revitalization of New York’s Historic Erie Canal system through continued investment in the Reimagine the Canals initiative

“With the impending threat of climate change looming, it is critical that the state continue and advance its strong work to protect the environment. The governor’s proposal lays out critical steps to do that, and we applaud the inclusion of these measures. Notably, the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Bond Act would provide essential investments in climate change mitigation and restoration projects, while critical water infrastructure projects would ensure safe drinking water for years, and expanding New York’s wetlands program would follow a natural approach to flood protection and enhance regulations around smaller wetlands.

“We commend the governor for acknowledging the adverse impact that our historic highway system has had on communities of color. We fully support her efforts to strengthen communities by eliminating structural barriers that have divided our neighborhoods for too long. We strongly believe that investing in sustainable infrastructure that promotes cycling, walking, and outdoor recreation, especially in places that have been underserved and disproportionately impacted, will provide significant health, economic, and quality of life benefits for current and future generations.

“Parks & Trails New York applauds the many proposed investments in protecting and enhancing our state’s critical outdoor recreation resources and making them available, safe and welcoming for all New Yorkers. Our state park system generates $5 billion in economic activity for the state – a 9-to-1 return on investment. State parks create 45,000 jobs, and $1.6 billion in annual spending comes from visitors living outside the communities in which the parks are located. Over the past two years, the value of New York’s green spaces and the importance of equitable access to these spaces has been clearly illustrated. Parks and trails cannot be considered nice amenities to take or leave when budgets allow; they are essential resources.

“We look forward to working with the governor and State Legislature to advance this vision and ensure New York continues to have the nation’s premier state park and trail system, economic security, and the resilience to combat climate change.”

Parks & Trails New York is a leading statewide advocate for parks and trails.

•1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East President George Gresham said, “As we head into the third year of a pandemic that has lasted longer than expected, Gov. Hochul’s 2022 State of the State honors the work and sacrifices that 1199SEIU members have endured. We are pleased to see the governor is making a significant commitment to invest in the current health care workforce, increasing the number of new workers joining the workforce, and moving them along their career pathway. We are also glad to see industrywide solutions, including a new portal for potential health care workers and others seeking training. While we await more details in the budget proposal, we do have key questions about support for vital safety net institutions that have provided lifesaving care during this pandemic, and about how the need for permanent wage increases will be addressed.”

•National Federation of Independent Business State Director Ashley Ranslow said, “NFIB applauds Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recognition, commitment and focus on helping the state’s small businesses, which have endured exhausting and unparalleled challenges over the past 21 months. As the governor stated, New York’s economy relies on the health and success of our Main Streets, and the state’s economic recovery will never be achieved if small businesses are left behind. We commend the governor for backing small business tax relief and accelerating middle-class tax cuts, benefiting the 61% of small businesses organized as pass-through entities. Proposed investments in tax credits, grants and lending will all foster a better small business ecosystem moving forward.

“However, there’s more work to be done in the coming months. Sky-high unemployment insurance taxes are crushing small businesses and suppressing Main Street’s revival. New York state must allocate billions of dollars in unspent federal aid to help lower small businesses' UI taxes and restore the drained unemployment insurance system. NFIB looks forward to working with the governor, Senate and Assembly to tackle UI and provide much-needed relief for New York’s job creators and economic engines – small businesses.”

•Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association, a statewide organization representing over 450 not-for profit, proprietary and government-sponsored skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, said, “It’s been said that leaders are problem-solvers by talent, temperament and choice, and Gov. Hochul’s State of the State address today made clear to all New Yorkers that our state has a governor who possesses all these traits and is a true problem-solver – especially when it comes to health care.

“In opening up her State of the State remarks by acknowledging that health care workers are the foundation of New York’s health care system, Gov. Hochul set forth historic, necessary and comprehensive solutions to address the state’s workforce crisis and other enduring issues that have been facing New York’s long-term care system for far too long.

“By investing $10 billion to support health care providers and wages for workers; implementing initiatives to rebuild and grow New York’s health care workforce by 20% over five years; supporting increased job flexibility for long-term care workers; and investing in Green House nursing home models, to name a few of her initiatives, Gov. Hochul demonstrated her commitment to resolving long-standing issues to ensure that New York once again has the best health care industry in the nation.

“We look forward to working in partnership with Gov. Hochul and the Legislature to implement these and other critical initiatives to strengthen the sustainability of long-term care services throughout New York.”

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