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Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her 2023 State of the State address in the Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol. (Photo by Darren McGee/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)
Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her 2023 State of the State address in the Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol. (Photo by Darren McGee/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)

Highlights of Hochul's State of the State, responses

Submitted Press Releases

Tue, Jan 10th 2023 05:50 pm

Gov. Kathy Hochul offered her State of the State address on Tuesday. Download the full book HERE.

Here are the highlights, as pointed out by her team:

Hochul Announces Major Public Safety Initiatives & Investments to Drive Down Gun Violence, Violent Crime

Hochul announced major public safety initiatives and investments, expanding proven programs and services to further drive down gun violence and other violent crime, reduce recidivism, address the flow of deadly fentanyl and improve the efficacy of the court system, which was disrupted by the pandemic.

The governor is proposing a comprehensive plan to expand the number of New York State Police community stabilization units, bolster trooper participation in federal task forces, and increase the ranks of the State Police by offering an unprecedented four academy classes.

Hochul is also proposing to double funding for the state's nationally recognized Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative, more than triple aid to prosecution grants to the state's 62 district attorneys' offices, and invest record funding in alternatives to incarceration and reentry programs to reduce recidivism, increase opportunity for individuals returning home after serving prison sentences, improve quality of life in neighborhoods and make communities safer.

"Public safety is my top priority," Hochul said. "I am committed to using every tool at my disposal to protect the people of this state, crack down on gun violence and violent crime, and invest in proven solutions that keep New Yorkers safe."

"In New York, we are committed to driving down crime, building safer neighborhoods, and breaking the cycles of recidivism," Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado said. "These direct investments into our communities will keep New Yorkers safe and keep our state moving forward."

The governor's new investment will allow the New York State Police, Division of Criminal Justice Services, and Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to expand funding, programs and services that have been proven to make a difference. Hochul also will work with the Legislature to clarify the state's bail laws in order to restore confidence in our criminal justice system.

State Police Acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said, "We are focused on working with our law enforcement partners to build on the success we've had in removing illegal guns from our communities and reducing gun violence statewide. Gov. Hochul's proposal ensures that we will have the additional resources necessary to fully accomplish this mission. We appreciate the governor's leadership and continued support of the State Police."

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, "Gov. Hochul has advanced a comprehensive strategy to keep New Yorkers safe and help ensure our justice system for all. By expanding and enhancing programs that have proven effective in preventing gun violence, reducing recidivism and addressing community needs, the governor is continuing to create a safer state. I thank Gov. Hochul for her steadfast leadership and for her support of public safety strategies that work, including our GIVE initiative, Crime Analysis Center Network, alternatives to incarceration and detention, and critical funding for recent justice reforms, including discovery and pretrial procedures."

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci said, "The department is proud of the work being undertaken by our parole officers, investigators and other law enforcement partners who participate in the GIVE initiative that has resulted in the seizure of a significant number of illegal firearms, protecting fellow New Yorkers. I commend the governor on her balanced, multipronged approach to public safety with enhanced funding for GIVE, providing resources to support alternatives to incarceration, while also expanding the department's use of electronic monitoring and enhanced intensive supervision through the Supervision Against Violent Engagement (SAVE) initiative."

New York State Police (NYSP): Community stabilization units have been instrumental in the State Police's multipronged approach to interdicting illegal firearms and provide understaffed local police agencies with resources to proactively address surges in crime and emerging issues. Troopers, including canine details, and investigators assigned to these units use a variety of tactics, such as targeted details, dedicated patrols, collaboration with business owners and community members, to address violence and quality of life in neighborhoods. The units also help to deter criminal activity by helping local communities increase physical police presence and interacting with the public to understand their concerns. Hochul's proposal will increase the number of these units from 16 to 25.

The State Police will expand its presence on federal task forces, reinforcing its commitment to collaborating with partners to take illegal guns off the streets and reduce violent crime. Participation in these task forces also provides greater access to information and intelligence, and federal task forces have the authority and resources to bridge the gap more seamlessly across state, county and local boundaries. In addition, the governor will work with prosecutors and police to ensure that DNA on all crime guns in New York may be sent to the state's DNA Databank and analyzed more quickly to further leverage the power of science to solve crimes.

Finally, the governor will propose additional funding for an unprecedented four State Police academy classes to accelerate rebuilding of the force, which is significantly below full strength. This will allow the division to devote more troopers to efforts focused on combatting serious crime.

New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS): Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York achieved record reductions in gun violence through its multifaceted approach in proven programs and strategies, including GIVE, community stabilization units, the SNUG Street Outreach program, interagency collaboration and cooperation, crime analysis, as well as data and information sharing among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In 2019, New York state reported 304 firearm-related homicides, the second-lowest number during the 10-year period from 2011 through 2020. Only 2017 had fewer: 296. The number of shooting incidents involving injury and the number of shooting victims reported by the 20 police departments that participate in the GIVE program also declined annually from 2016 through 2019, when both reached 10-year lows. Reported index crimes also declined annually for seven years, reaching all-time low in 2019. New York was the safest of the 10 largest states in the nation.

Gun violence surged across the country in 2020 and 2021, when New York and other states faced a pandemic that impacted every aspect of life and significantly disrupted the criminal justice and court systems, and experienced social unrest not seen in a generation. Last year, reported crime also increased across the nation and New York state. To address this erosion of public safety, Hochul secured $227 million for public safety initiatives in 2022, and the state has seen progress as a result of that investment. More than 10,000 illegal guns have been taken off the streets and preliminary data show that shootings were down 16% in the communities that participate in GIVE, and murders decreased 10% across the state. Compared to the prepandemic period from 2017 through 2019, violent crime in New York City increased 32%, while communities outside of the five boroughs experienced a modest 4% increase in violent crime.

Funding for GIVE will double to $36 million, which will expand the use of evidence-based strategies – hot-spot policing, focused deterrence, crime prevention through environmental design, and street outreach – and result in the hiring of more than 150 police officers and prosecutors solely dedicated to combating gun violence within their communities. This initiative supports 20 police departments in 17 counties that account for more than 80% of the violent crime that occurs in New York state outside of New York City: Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester. District attorneys' offices, probation departments, sheriffs' offices and other partners in those counties also receive funding through the initiative.

Aid to prosecution funding will more than triple to $40 million, which will be used to hire additional prosecutors in the state's 62 district attorneys' offices. The state also will sustain $40 million in discovery funding for the 57 counties outside of New York City with their implementation of discovery law and changes to the state's bail laws, both of which took effect Jan. 1, 2020. To date, the state has allocated $80 million to counties, which have used the funding for training, personnel, overtime, administrative support, equipment, software and data connectivity. Counties were required to submit plans to DCJS that prioritized requests for district attorneys' offices, local police departments, and sheriffs' offices, but funding also could support pretrial services and increased case supervision resulting from bail reform, nonprofit organizations, and forensic laboratories.

DCJS also will extend its Crime Analysis Center Network, a national model and the backbone of state and local efforts to deter, investigate and solve crimes, to New York City. This new center would join 10 others located in Albany, Broome, Erie, Franklin Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange and Suffolk counties that serve more than 350 law enforcement agencies across nearly 43 counties and handle more than 60,000 requests each year.

Supported by DCJS in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, centers have helped local authorities solve murders, shootings, robberies, hate crimes and serial burglaries, as well as crimes committed by national and regional organized criminal groups. The New York City center will develop and foster crime analysis and intelligence partnerships with partners in the five boroughs, including the New York City Police Department, to ensure statewide data and information sharing. The new center also will integrate with the existing regional crime analysis capability located within the New York-New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is focused on disrupting the illegal narcotics trade and cycle of gun violence.

Hochul also will propose additional funding to combat the flow of fentanyl into the state. Additional crime analysts focused on fentanyl distribution and related deaths will be deployed to HIDTA, and the state will establish an Anti-Fentanyl Innovation Grant for prosecutors, allowing them to target supply chains and prosecute cases involving overdose deaths, among other proposals.

In addition, funding will triple for 20 county re-entry task forces that provide dedicated case management, care coordination, and stabilization services, in partnership with local government agencies and community-based organizations. DCJS will administer $12 million, which will allow these task forces to serve 7,500 people annually, an increase of 5,000 individuals. In addition to helping meet behavioral, health, employment, and educational needs, this investment will also expand stabilization services for individuals facing crisis, offset the costs of initial housing and transportation, provide stipends and incentives for workforce training and employment and support community-based partners who provide critical services to individuals returning to their communities.

Alternatives to incarceration programs connect people with treatment and services, reduce the use of incarceration, save taxpayer money and improve public safety by reducing recidivism. Doubling funding to $30 million for these programs will ensure increased access and availability of these programs, which have proven effective and provide a significant return on investment: $4 for every $1 spent. New York will scale these services, create a best-in-the-nation network of community-based programs, and reduce rearrests of individuals awaiting trial.

At the same time, the state will sustain its investment in pretrial services funding for all counties outside of New York City. This funding will support a continuum of pretrial services, including screening and assessments, supervision, a centralized case management system, and dedicated information sharing with the court system. Probation departments and community-based providers will receive this critical funding to expand and enhance services that enhance public safety and return more people to court.

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS): The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will expand the Supervision Against Violent Engagement (SAVE) pilot program from Rochester to Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse. Individuals on parole who are identified at the highest level of risk to reoffend will be placed on electronic monitoring and intensive supervision.

DOCCS also will receive additional funding to provide a full-time, senior parole officer to serve as a data coordinator for each of the GIVE jurisdictions to facilitate intelligence gathering and sharing at the local level; and embed a full-time, senior investigator within the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) at DOCCS in each of the State Police's gun violence task force jurisdictions to attend and gather cross-jurisdictional information.

Stabilize Fire Service Statewide to Improve Emergency Response: Volunteer fire departments serve approximately 9 million New Yorkers, which is nearly half of the state's population. In recent years, however, more than three-quarters of these departments have reported a decrease in the number of individuals willing to volunteer and serve. At the same time, calls for service have increased 29% from 1997 to 2020. These two factors have resulted in a significant increase in calls for mutual aid, in which a department responding to the call must seek assistance from a neighboring department to help. In New York state, mutual aid calls increased 15% between 2000 and 2020, compared to the national increase of only 61%. This has caused significant strain on resources and personnel from both volunteer and career fire departments. To boost recruitment and retention, Hochul will propose legislation to allow communities to pay modest compensation to eligible volunteer firefighters, and also create a state fund to cover some of the costs associated with core firefighter training. The fund also will offset some of the wages that volunteers lose when they miss work because they are being trained to serve their communities. 

Hochul Announces Statewide Strategy to Address New York's Housing Crisis, Build 800,000 New Homes

Hochul announced a statewide strategy to address New York's housing crisis, build 800,000 new homes over the next decade to meet the historic shortage, and support New York renters and homeowners. The New York Housing Compact, a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy, includes local participation requirements and incentives to achieve housing growth in every community so that every part of the state is a partner in solving this urgent crisis. The plan will also require municipalities with MTA rail stations to locally rezone for higher density residential development.

"New York faces a housing crisis that requires bold actions and an all-hands-on-deck approach," Hochul said. "Every community in New York must do their part to encourage housing growth to move our state forward and keep our economy strong. The New York Housing Compact is a comprehensive plan to spur the changes needed to create more housing, meet rising demand, and make our state a more equitable, stable, and affordable place to live."

New York state is currently facing a severe, once-in-a-generation housing crisis. According to the Population Reference Bureau more than half of New York renters are rent-burdened, meaning that they pay more than 30% of their income on rent - the second-highest rate in the nation. In the New York City metro area, rents have risen 30% since 2015 and home prices have risen 50 % over the same period. Outside of New York City, rents have risen 40% to 60% since 2015 while home prices have risen 50% to 80%.

The New York Housing Compact will call upon all levels of government to meet the ongoing crisis.

Statewide Housing Targets: The New York Housing Compact will require all cities, towns, and villages to achieve new home creation targets on a three-year cycle. Downstate municipalities served by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority where the housing need is most acute, including New York City, will have a 3% new homes target over three years. For municipalities in upstate counties, the new homes target will be 1% over three years.

Under the Compact, localities will decide how to best meet their new home construction targets. From repurposing underutilized office parks and strip malls to offering new incentives towards multifamily buildings, localities can choose how to tailor their strategies to increase housing supply. To encourage the inclusion of affordable housing as part of the new growth, affordable units will be assigned extra weight in calculating localities' progress toward their goals.

Localities that do not meet targets can achieve Safe Harbor status for one three-year cycle by implementing certain good faith actions - or "Preferred Actions" - that create zoning capacity to achieve the growth targets.

Infrastructure and Planning Funds: The New York Housing Compact will make available a $250 million Infrastructure Fund and $20 million Planning Fund to support new housing production statewide. Municipalities may submit requests for planning funding to undertake either required Transit-Oriented Development rezonings or Preferred Actions to help them hit their growth targets. The plan will also create a new Housing Planning Office within New York State Homes and Community Renewal to provide municipalities with support and guidance.

New Focus on Transit-Oriented Development: The New York Housing Compact will require that localities with rail stations run by the MTA undertake a local rezoning or higher density multifamily development within half a mile of the station unless they already meet the density level. By expanding housing potential in these transit-oriented communities, more families will be able to enjoy improved access to jobs and thriving sustainable communities.

Facilitate Housing Approval When Targets are Unmet: After 3 years, in localities that do not meet growth targets or do not take steps to implement Preferred Actions, proposed housing developments that meet particular affordability criteria, but may not conform to existing zoning, may take advantage of a fast-track housing approval process if the locality denies the permit. The appeal can be made to a new State Housing Approval Board or through the courts. Appealed projects will be approved unless a locality can demonstrate a valid health or safety reason for denying the application.

Municipalities that fall short of their targets can still take good faith Preferred Actions to spur development for another 3-year cycle in which the fast-track approval process will not apply. In municipalities where there is no market demand for new housing there will be no practical effect if localities fall short of their targets.

Remove Obstacles to Housing Approvals: To expedite rezoning and development of new homes, specific relief from environmental review will be included in the New Homes Targets and Transit Oriented Development proposals. The state will continue to exercise crucial safeguards that prevent environmental harm and ensure that public health remains a top priority.

Provide New York City with Vital Tools to Increase Housing: Hochul has put forth several housing proposals specific to New York City to address the outsized impact of the housing crisis in the five boroughs. The governor will propose the reversal of an antiquated state law that restricts maximum density of residential floor area. This measure will allow New York City the ability to allow for denser residential development where City officials deem appropriate.

Hochul will also propose legislation to expand the universe of commercial buildings eligible for conversion to residential use and provide necessary regulatory relief, making an estimated additional 120 million square feet newly eligible for conversion.

Additionally, Hochul will propose granting the City of New York the authority to provide amnesty by local law for existing basement units that meet health and safety standards to be determined by the city.

Critical Incentives to Build and Rehabilitate Housing: Hochul unveiled a series of new proposals to incentivize new housing construction and the rehabilitation of existing housing. This includes new property tax exemptions to encourage mixed income housing development near train stations and incentivize affordable housing in commercial buildings that are converted to residential use in New York City. This also includes updated property tax exemptions offered by local option to support homeowners that build Accessory Dwelling Units and for property owners who need support undertaking certain renovations in New York City.

To support the development of mixed-income housing outside of New York City, Hochul will direct New York State Homes and Community Renewal to make $5 million in State Low Income Housing Tax Credits available.

Hochul will also make necessary changes to ensure that localities where new housing developments utilize Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreements are not penalized in tax cap calculations.

The governor will work with the State Legislature to develop a successor for the 421-a property tax exemption program that expired last year to stimulate production of new rental housing in New York City.

Strengthening New York's Existing Housing Supply: The governor announced additional proposals to increase the state's supply of safe, stable, comfortable housing for all New Yorkers.

Hochul will propose legislation to create a program that builds on proven models to drastically reduce lead exposure risk in rental housing outside of New York City, targeting areas classified as "high-risk" for lead exposure based on incidence of childhood elevated blood lead levels. This will require multi-family rental units in such areas that were built prior to 1980 to undergo a lead risk assessment every three years - if lead hazards are found, the landlord will be required to remediate the housing unit. There will be grant funding for eligible landlords to help cover the cost of these assessments and the remediation of identified hazards.

The governor will also propose legislation that will update the existing law that enables local governments to take ownership of certain dangerous abandoned properties. This legislation will help localities reduce public health risks, improve property values for neighboring homeowners, increase property tax revenues, and create new housing opportunities.

Support for Renters and Homeowners: In addition to proposals to build new homes, Hochul unveiled two new proposals to address the impacts of the housing crisis on current New York renters and homeowners. Hochul will propose a targeted initiative, modeled on the Buffalo East Homeownership Assistance Program, to finance home repairs in communities statewide that have been identified as having high levels of low-income homeowners of color and homeowner distress.

The governor will also propose increased funding for the state's Tenant Protection Unit, enabling them to open an additional satellite office. The increased capabilities of the Unit will be of particular benefit to manufactured home park residents and will improve access to grants and loans available to municipalities for farmworker housing.

Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "New York's acute housing shortage impacts all communities both large and small, rural and urban. Gov. Hochul's New York Housing Compact is a broad and far-reaching strategy to greatly increase housing production across the state in a way that benefits our climate, accommodates our growing workforce, and expands fair access to quality housing opportunities for all New Yorkers. These sweeping actions will ensure that our communities have the support they need to meet housing creation targets and implement smart growth strategies that will ultimately make our state an even better, more inclusive, and more affordable place to live."

Hochul's 2022 Housing Plan: The New York Housing Compact complements the governor's $25 billion comprehensive Housing Plan, announced in last year's State of the State address, to create or preserve 100,000 affordable homes across New York including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations, plus the electrification of an additional 50,000 homes.

Hochul Announces Transformative Investments in Energy Affordability, Building Efficiency, Clean Air & Water

Hochul announced investments in energy affordability, clean and efficient buildings, clean air, and clean water. The proposal will create the Energy Affordability Guarantee to ensure participating New Yorkers never pay more than 6% of their incomes on electricity. Hochul also announced $200 million in relief for utility bills for up to 800,000 New York households earning under $75,000 a year that are not currently eligible for the state's current utility discount program. Additionally, Hochul announced an ambitious package of building decarbonization initiatives, including for zero-emission new construction and the phase out of the sale of new fossil fuel heating equipment. This announcement also includes $500 million in clean water funding, coupled with the creation of Community Assistance Teams to help disadvantaged communities access financial assistance.

"New York state is leading by example and setting in motion a bold agenda to promote energy affordability, reduce emissions, and invest in clean air and water," Hochul said. "The first-in-the-nation Energy Affordability Guarantee will help hardworking families as we implement the nation's most ambitious climate plans and chart a path to a cleaner, healthier New York for future generations."

Addressing Energy Affordability: In addition to advancing an economywide Cap-and-Invest-Program that supports universal rebates to consumers, Hochul is proposing a series of policies to insulate our most vulnerable households from rising energy prices while advancing the transition to lower emissions. Actions include:

√ Providing $200 million in relief for high electric bills. New York state will provide a credit to approximately 800,000 households that make under $75,000 to help pay burdensome electric bills.

√ Pairing affordability support with modernizing low-income homes through EmPower Plus Pilot. EmPower Plus will help 20,000 low-income families improve their homes by adding insulation, upgrading to energy efficient appliances, and switching from polluting fossil fuel heating to clean, efficient electric alternatives. Homes that qualify through the EmPower Plus program are also eligible for the Energy Affordability Guarantee when they fully electrify. This first-in-the-nation pilot program will ensure participating families never pay more than 6% of their incomes on electricity. The current EmPower program served more than 14,000 homes in 2022 and EmPower Plus is expected to reach over 20,000 households within the next year through a combination of weatherization and electrification measures, drastically cutting energy use as well as delivering more than 17,000 metric tons of averted emissions - thanks to an infusion of $200 million in new state support.

√ Directing the Low-Income Energy Task Force, composed of state agencies that administer energy affordability programs, to undertake immediate efforts to improve the alignment of existing programs and streamline administrative processes to increase access to these services and the impact of public dollars.

Investing in Clean Air and Reducing Emissions: To improve air quality and reduce emissions from various sectors, Hochul is:

√ Calling for zero-emission new construction, with no on-site fossil fuel combustion by 2025 for smaller buildings, and by 2028 for larger buildings.

√ Proposing New York take a nation-leading stand to prohibit the sale of any new fossil fuel heating equipment by 2030 for smaller buildings and 2035 for larger buildings, along with related fossil fuel systems for all buildings.

√ Advancing a system to assign letter grades to larger buildings statewide based on their energy usage to help building managers make informed choices to cut electricity bills and emissions.

√ Building on New York's nation-leading investments in transportation electrification by directing the Department of Public Service (DPS) to identify and remove the barriers to deploying charging infrastructure for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles efficiently and timely.

√ Directing the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) to source all facilities' electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030 by generating its own electricity and prioritizing other green resources such as community solar or purchasing renewable energy from other local facilities.

√ Creating an Office of Just Transition to centralize and direct state planning for a just transition; New York will be the first to advance a structure dedicated to the achievement of an economywide just transition for affected workers and communities that looks beyond the transition from coal and addresses the shift away from other fossil fuels.

Investing in Clean Water: Hochul will invest $500 million in clean water funding to support water quality and infrastructure projects and protect public health. To leverage these investments and ensure ongoing coordination with local governments, Hochul will develop Community Assistance Teams, which will provide proactive outreach to small, rural, and disadvantaged communities and help them access financial assistance to address their clean water infrastructure needs.

Building on the state's previous actions to combat emerging contaminants like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Hochul will establish a program offering financial assistance to municipalities to investigate sources of contamination and remediate contaminated sites over the next five years. This new program will provide the resources New York communities need to remove these chemicals from our environment and protect clean water.

Reduce Waste and Invest in Local Recycling Programs: Solid waste is the fourth-largest contributor to climate-altering greenhouse gases. To protect communities and alleviate the burden on municipalities and taxpayers, Hochul will propose the Waste Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act, which shifts the responsibility of recycling to the producer and away from taxpayers. New York state will develop a new, more efficient waste reduction strategy that will increase recycling rates, save local governments money, create jobs, and protect the environment. The program will require that New York meet material-specific recycling rates, create binding post-consumer recycled content rates, and help ensure recycling is convenient for consumers.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Doreen M. Harris said, "We know the high energy costs faced by consumers today are being felt throughout all New York communities. As such, Gov. Hochul has proposed a bold agenda that focuses on securing energy affordability with a particular focus on those New Yorkers who most need the additional support whether through bill relief or making their homes more energy efficient. Going hand in hand with this support is addressing the primary cause of our greenhouse gas emissions, the state's building stock, and seeking to construct new zero emissions buildings within the next decade to provide healthier and more comfortable living and working spaces. As we address these issues head on, we know that to be successful our foundation must be built upon all New Yorkers benefiting equitably in the transition to a green economy."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Gov. Hochul's State of the State proposals and sustained investments are delivering the climate and environmental action our state and nation need. This comprehensive approach will bolster ongoing efforts to protect water and air quality, tackle climate change, and realize the economic potential of a clean energy future. DEC is proud to partner with experts in the public and private sectors to achieve the governor's goal to make New York cleaner, healthier, more sustainable, and more affordable for New Yorkers."

Rory M. Christian, Chair of the Public Service Commission, said, "For the second year in a row, Gov. Hochul is providing unprecedented financial relief to utility ratepayers. The Department is ready and eager to implement her vision for expanded utility discounts and to learn from piloting a first-in-the-nation Energy Affordability Guarantee for participating low-income households. As we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 economic disruption and as global commodity price volatility adds to New Yorkers' household energy burden, the governor's new and innovative energy affordability initiatives are coming at exactly the right time."

New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "New York State Parks are among our greatest environmental legacies in New York state, and we are committed to making our park system a model of sustainability. Gov. Hochul's leadership in expanding renewable energy is putting New York State Parks at the forefront of innovative natural resource protection, while creating more jobs in the years to come."

New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. President and CEO Maureen A. Coleman said, "Gov. Hochul understands that clean water infrastructure supports stronger, healthier communities and ecosystems, and promotes economic development. Under Gov. Hochul's leadership, New York continues to provide unprecedented financial assistance to help communities improve water quality. Providing targeted technical assistance is crucial to help communities most in need access the significant state and federal funding that is available. EFC looks forward to collaborating with our partners in government to implement this forward-thinking initiative and help communities undertake vital drinking water and sewer upgrades, mitigate impacts from climate change, and address environmental, public health, and quality of life concerns."

Hochul Unveils Cap-and-Invest Program to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Combat Climate Change

Hochul announced a Cap-and-Invest Program to fund a sustainable and affordable future for all New Yorkers. Gov. Hochul directed the Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to advance an economywide Cap-and-Invest Program that establishes a declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions, invests in programs that drive emissions reductions in an equitable manner prioritizing disadvantaged communities, limits costs to economically vulnerable households, and maintains the competitiveness of New York industries. In addition, Hochul will propose legislation to create a universal Climate Action Rebate that is expected to drive more than $1 billion in future cap-and-invest proceeds to New Yorkers every year.

"As we work to drive down polluting emissions across the board, we must make sure that those who have already suffered from environmental injustice no longer bear an unfair share of the burden," Hochul said. "Our ambitious Cap-and-Invest Program sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and shares the revenues with New Yorkers from disadvantaged communities to help cover utility bills, transportation costs and decarbonization efforts. Through our innovative efforts, we will create a cleaner, greener future while helping New Yorkers with the costs of the transition."

New York is undertaking one of the most ambitious and comprehensive efforts in the United States to address the threat of climate change. This new Cap-and-Invest Program will allow New York to continue making critical investments in our clean energy future while supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in the face of rising global energy prices.

Beginning immediately, DEC and NYSERDA will design a program that sets an annual cap on the amount of pollution that is permitted to be emitted in New York, as recommended in the recently finalized Climate Action Council Scoping Plan. Every year, the emissions cap will be reduced, setting the state on a trajectory to meet our Climate Act requirements of 40% in emissions by 2030, and at least 85% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. At Hochul's direction, the program design will prioritize five core principles:

√ Affordability: A Cap-and-Invest Program must put the wellbeing of New York families first. In her upcoming Executive Budget, Hochul will propose legislation to create a universal Climate Action Rebate that is expected to drive more than $1 billion in future cap-and-invest proceeds to New Yorkers every year. The Climate Action Rebate will be designed to mitigate consumer costs, while preserving crucial funding for consumer-led decarbonization efforts, including energy efficiency measures that reduce energy costs, clean mobility solutions that reduce transportation costs, and other investments that improve air quality and create new job opportunities. Furthermore, Hochul will seek program design features that can help ensure potential Cap-and-Invest costs are predictable and manageable for all consumers and businesses.

√ Climate Leadership: New York's Cap-and-Invest Program will not only help achieve New York's climate goals, but also further catalyze a nationwide movement towards carbon pricing. To that end, Hochul is specifically directing DEC and NYSERDA to design a program with the capacity to join other current or future programs, which can lower the price of the transition to a greener economy, overall.

√ Creating Jobs and Preserving Competitiveness: New York's Cap-and-Invest Program will be designed to launch new investment in industries intended to create tens of thousands of good paying, family-sustaining jobs of the future that can lift entire communities. From home retrofits to electric vehicle charging installations and green manufacturing, cap-and-invest proceeds can stimulate the entire clean energy economy. Hochul is directing DEC and NYSERDA to design a cost-mitigation program to ensure New York industries are not put at a competitive disadvantage. Furthermore, cap-and-invest proceeds can go towards just transition initiatives that will ensure no worker is left behind.

√ Investing in Disadvantaged Communities: Cap-and-Invest will prioritize the front-line, disadvantaged communities in our state that for far too long have suffered from pollution and environmental injustice. The program will not allow the use of offsets that could allow high-emitting sources to continue to pollute, and will instead be designed to ensure pollution burdens are reduced. Under Hochul's leadership, a minimum of 35%, with a goal of 40%, of the benefits of cap-and-invest resources will directly benefit disadvantaged communities, and the program will be designed to ensure pollution burdens are reduced in frontline communities. These investments will fund crucial programs to improve air quality, reduce reliance on polluting power plants, retrofit homes and schools, and decarbonize our transportation systems, among other vital efforts to reduce pollution hotspots.

√ Funding a Sustainable Future: Cap-and-Invest will provide funding needed to support achievement of New York's climate goals. From helping business owners electrify operations to funding electric vehicle (EV) chargers and energy efficiency investments that will reduce energy bills, cap-and-invest proceeds will filter across our state – enhancing livability, cutting transition costs for consumers, and creating a better New York.

Large-scale greenhouse gas emitters and distributors of heating and transportation fuels will be required to purchase allowances for the emissions associated with their activities. By applying to each metric ton of carbon emissions, the Cap-and-Invest Program will incentivize consumers, businesses, and other entities to transition to lower-carbon alternatives. Proceeds will support the state's critical investments in climate mitigation, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and other projects, in addition to funding an annual Climate Action Rebate that will be distributed to all New Yorkers to help mitigate any potential consumer costs associated with the program.

Achieving these principles requires both a rigorous and transparent regulatory process led by DEC and NYSERDA and crucial reforms made together with legislative partners to ensure New York's Cap-and-Invest Program benefits all consumers, keeps our economy's competitive advantage while maximizing economic returns, and allows for linkages with other jurisdictions.

Rory M. Christian, chair of the New York State Public Service Commission, said, "Gov. Hochul exemplifies leadership and determination in her drive to develop a clean energy economy that will help spur economic growth and opportunity while also directly benefiting consumers. Her nation-leading Cap-and-Invest Program is designed to do just that."

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Doreen M. Harris said, "Gov. Hochul's proposal furthers New York's leadership by bringing forward an innovative solution to meet the profound challenges presented by the destructive nature of climate change. The economywide Cap-and-Invest Program underscores the critical balancing act we are undertaking to ensure all New Yorkers benefit from this program that will reduce harmful emissions, especially in those communities that have too long borne the brunt of climate change both financially and health-wise, while remaining focused on keeping our businesses competitive and at the forefront of producing technological change. With this Cap and Invest Program, we are sending a signal to other states that this transition can be advanced in a thoughtful and collaborative way to move the needle in addressing one of the generational challenges of our time."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, "Gov. Hochul is showing the world that climate action can be ambitious, affordable, and achievable, and I'm proud to work with her and our state's foremost climate experts to advance this comprehensive Cap-and-Invest Program. Through Hochul's leadership, the state is poised to enact a strong and effective tool to combat climate change, improve air quality, spur innovation, protect jobs, and provide the funding needed for our green economy to succeed. DEC looks forward to working with NYSERDA, the Legislature, and New Yorkers across the state to build this essential program which will also prioritize addressing pollution hotspots impacting the health and well-being of the state's disadvantaged communities."

New York's Cap-and-Invest Program will draw from the experience of similar and successful programs across the country and around the world that have yielded sizable emissions reductions while catalyzing the clean energy economy. New York's electricity system is already part of a regional cap-and-invest style program, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Since RGGI was established in 2005, the program has helped reduce greenhouse gases from power plants by more than half and raised nearly $6 billion to support cleaner energy solutions amongst its12 participating states.

Hochul Announces Plan to Make Child Care More Affordable, Accessible, Fair in New York

Hochul announced a sweeping plan to make New York's child care system fairer, more affordable, and easier to access. The proposals include plans to streamline and centralize the child care application process, expand access to the system, and provide assistance to families, workers, and businesses to support New York's child care infrastructure.

"As someone who had to put their career on pause because of a lack of affordable child care options, I understand how important this lifeline is for families," Hochul said. "While we have made major investments to boost child care funding, there are still too many families who aren't able to access these resources. That is why we are taking critical steps to improve the process of finding child care, widen program eligibility, and support our child care workforce."

Child care programs have long operated on the slimmest of margins, unable to raise tuition high enough to cover the enormous costs of providing quality care, including living wages to the staff nurturing and educating our youngest children. At the height of the pandemic, as classrooms closed and entire programs shut their doors, many families struggled to find alternative care arrangements, putting their jobs - and their economic stability - in jeopardy. As a result, women left the workforce at a disproportionate rate while families, for whom not working was not an option, were left to navigate a fragile, patchwork system.

Last year, Hochul announced a historic $7 billion state investment in child care. Still, child care uptake remains low, and the governor remains committed to helping families access the resources that are available. That's why Hochul's proposal will focus on three main goals to overhaul New York's child care system: making it easier for families to access financial assistance for which they are eligible; providing support to the child care workforce; and engaging the business community in new ways to build supply and reduce costs for more families.

New York State Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, "I applaud Gov. Hochul for recognizing the urgency and significance of transforming New York's child care system. This comprehensive and ground-breaking array of initiatives will facilitate greater access to child care for our hard-working parents, increase wages for our deserving child care staff, who give so much of themselves while often struggling to make a living wage and ensure the stability of child care programs as the demand for services continues to grow. We have listened to our families, especially women who are more often impacted by child care limitations, heard our providers and are resoundingly saying you are not alone. OCFS is proud to be part of this bold action to make quality, safe and secure child care more equitable, affordable and sustainable."

Streamlining and Centralizing the Child Care Application Process: Hochul has proposed a statewide electronic solution allowing families to pre-screen for eligibility and apply for child care assistance, removing any redundant processes and unnecessary reporting requirements placed on families. By streamlining and centralizing the application for child care assistance, simplifying the process of presenting documentation, and creating an online application option for all counties, Hochul aims to dramatically increase the number of applications completed successfully.

Expanding Access to the Child Care System: Hochul unveiled a plan to expand eligibility for child care assistance by raising the income limit to the maximum allowed by federal law – which is 85% of New York's median income, or approximately $93,200 per year for a family of four. As a result, the families of an estimated 113,000 more children will become eligible for assistance for the first time, helping to reduce out-of-pocket costs for more households.

In addition, the governor proposed eliminating a redundancy requiring families that participate in programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Home Energy Assistance Program, Medicaid, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children to prove that they are income-eligible for the Child Care Assistance Program. As a result of these changes, an estimated 83,400 children in already-eligible families will have easier access to the Child Care Assistance Program.

Hochul will also standardize key eligibility across local districts by ensuring that the most vulnerable families – families experiencing homelessness and families caring for a child in foster care or kinship care – are provided child care assistance as long as funds are available. Additionally, the governor will standardize the state's policies on absences. Currently, districts' policies on payments for absences vary widely, with 11 districts providing reimbursement for up to 80 days before a family becomes responsible for paying out of pocket but over 20 districts only cover 24 absences. The state will mandate that districts cover 80 absences in an effort to standardize this policy across counties.

The state will also cap family co-payments at 1% of family income above the poverty level, as approximately half of districts already do, rather than the 10% cap that is the current statewide rule. The state estimates that 10% of families would see a reduction in their co-payments as a result of this rule change, making it easier for those families to participate in the program.

In addition, Hochul is directing New York State Homes and Community Renewal to incentivize housing developments to include dedicated child care space. Affordable child care is essential for both children and parents, boosting childhood development and freeing parents to work. Child care centers across the state struggle to afford high rent and compete for space in a market that is limited by strict but important safety rules. Building off an unprecedented investment of $100 million to increase the capacity of programs in child care deserts, the state will take further action to ensure child care facilities are integrated into the fabric of our communities. HCR will expressly favor applications for its Low-Income Housing Tax Credit that incorporate child care facility space.

Workforce Retention Grant Program: Hochul will use unspent federal funds to establish a new Workforce Retention Grant Program to provide payments to child care providers at 17,000 programs statewide. Grants will also be used to cover payroll tax assistance and support staff recruitment strategies, including sign-on bonuses for new employees and other expenses related to hiring new staff. This is a critical and timely step toward stabilizing the child care sector as the State and Child Care Availability Task Force continue to undertake the important work of evaluating alternative workforce compensation frameworks.

New York State Employer-Supported Child Care Pilot Program: To better address affordability for families that are ineligible for CCAP and bring in new resources from employers, Hochul will establish the New York State Employer-Supported Child Care pilot program to facilitate splitting the costs of care for eligible employees between the state, employers, and employees. In the ESCC pilot, employers will contribute a third of the cost of care for families between 85% and 100% of median income, and the state will match it, reducing out-of-pocket costs for these families and generating millions of dollars in new financial support for child care.

Adopt Business Income Tax Credit for Child Care Statewide: Given limitations on eligible expenses, and other restrictions in design, the preexisting federal and state employer-provided child care credit have not been widely utilized by employers. Hochul has proposed a more flexible statewide, two-year business income tax credit for businesses that create or expand child care access for their employees.

The proposal would align with a similar New York City business income tax credit allowing for city-level and state-level outcomes to be evaluated at the same time.

Create a Business Navigator Program: Hochul will establish a Business Navigator program in each of the 10 Regional Economic Development Council regions to help interested businesses identify options to support employees' child care needs, and will also develop a statewide employer child care guidebook, making good on another one of the state task force's recommendations.

Hochul's Child Care Agenda: Hochul's State of the State proposals build on her long record of making child care fairer, more accessible, and more affordable in New York state. As lieutenant governor, Hochul co-chaired the state's Child Care Availability Task Force, which focused on developing innovative solutions that will improve access to quality, affordable child care in New York. And as governor, she worked with the Legislature to overhaul the child care system and make historic, one-of-a-kind investments, including a four-year, $7 billion commitment to improving the child care assistance program; expanding income eligibility for child care assistance to more than half of young children in New York; increasing state reimbursement rates to providers to expand the number of programs from which families can choose; investing $50 million to establish a child care capital program ; investing $343M to stabilize programs at risk of closure and support the child care workforce; and investing $15.6 million to expand child care to all SUNY and CUNY campuses.

Hochul Announces Plan to Raise Minimum Wage Annually, Helping New Yorkers Address Rising Cost of Living

Hochul announced a transformative plan to help low-wage New Yorkers meet the rising cost of living by indexing New York's minimum wage to inflation. Under the proposal, each year, the state's minimum wage would increase at a rate determined by the Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners for the Northeast Region - the best regional measure of inflation. The proposal is expected to benefit hundreds of thousands of minimum wage workers across New York state. The governor also unveiled a new suite of bold initiatives that will modernize and streamline the state's proven workforce development infrastructure to ensure New Yorkers have the skills they need to thrive in today's economy, and to help rebuild a modern public sector workforce.

"If we really want to tackle the affordability crisis head-on, we must recognize that low-wage workers in New York have been hit hardest by the increases in costs of living," Hochul said. "Our commonsense plan to peg the minimum wage to inflation will not only put more money into the pockets of hundreds of thousands of hardworking New Yorkers, it will also provide predictability for employers and spur more spending in local economies and businesses."

The governor's proposal would increase the state's minimum wage by the growth in the year-over-year Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners (CPI-W) for the Northeast Region. To ensure that no single-year increase would threaten employment, annual increases would be capped. In addition, the proposal would also allow for an "off-ramp" in the event of certain economic or budget conditions.

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "By investing in our workforce, we are investing in the future of New York state. Gov. Hochul has already accomplished so much since taking office, and she continues to keep her eye on the big picture. The governor's continued commitment to workforce development ensures that no New Yorker will be left behind in the economy of tomorrow."

New York State Department of Civil Service Commissioner Timothy R. Hogues said, "Like so many employers across this nation, New York state is having significant challenges in filling positions across state government and this problem was only exacerbated by the pandemic. Gov. Hochul's bold leadership to reimagine and modernize the civil service process will support a new progressive and transformative civil service examination model that will be more convenient for all New Yorkers. At the Department of Civil Service, we are looking forward to bringing the governor's vision to fruition by eliminating barriers to entry for civil service jobs, meeting jobseekers where they are, and modernizing the state's approach to meeting our workforce needs to help recruit and retain a diverse and talented workforce that can serve all New Yorkers well into the future."

Indexing the minimum wage to inflation will help to maintain the purchasing power of workers' wages from year to year. And while increasing the minimum wage would benefit all low-income workers, it would particularly benefit women and people of color who comprise a disproportionate share of minimum wage workers.

Seventeen other states either currently tie their minimum wage to inflation or some other economic formula or are slated to do so, including three states which have minimum wages at or above $15 in 2023. Economic research shows that raising the minimum wage can lead to reductions in poverty, reduced social assistance spending, stimulative spending, improved worker productivity, and other benefits.

Hochul has supported previous measures to help workers meet rising costs and cope with inflation. Last year, the governor announced a minimum wage increase for counties outside of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester to $14.20 per hour. The governor also secured a minimum wage increase for home health aides as part of the FY 2023 budget.

Modernizing and Streamlining the State's Training and Employment Infrastructure: Hochul also announced steps to modernize New York's workforce development system, enhance the state's talent pipeline, and help workers and employers to meet the needs of the 21st century economy. The governor will transform the New York State Department of Labor's (NYSDOL) Career Centers into Community Training and Career Centers, a one-stop-shop for New Yorkers looking for new job opportunities. In these revitalized centers, additional professional skills trainers will provide unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers with no-cost training in high-need areas, such as digital and financial literacy and entrepreneurship. This will be paired with a new, large-scale, on-the-job training program to upskill thousands of workers each year, focusing on high-demand industries and hard-to-fill job titles.

The governor will also direct NYSDOL and the State University of New York (SUNY) to establish new partnerships between the Career Centers and SUNY Educational Opportunity Centers to provide New Yorkers seamless access to a wide variety of job preparedness and specialized training services at no cost. This new integrated approach will enhance the proven NYSDOL Career Center model by supplementing its services with SUNY's robust training and educational arm, which can pivot in real-time to best meet the needs of businesses and provide immediate access to tuition-free training for job seekers. NYSDOL and SUNY will work to braid federal funding and partnerships with other state agencies and community resources to help more New Yorkers access training opportunities and receive comprehensive wrap-around services. This will ensure that all New Yorkers are ready for today's job market through attainable diplomas and credentials paired with digital literacy and professional skills training, résumé development, job search and networking support, and other services that reduce barriers to employment.

Rebuilding New York's Public Workforce: Hochul also mapped out a plan to improve the New York State Civil Service system to rebuild the public sector workforce to address a shortage of more than 15,000 workers with more than 26% of the state workforce becoming retirement-eligible in the next five years. Her strategy aims to attract and retain top talent and increase the diversity of the public workforce to better reflect New York state, by:

√ Holding Civil Service exams on an ongoing basis to give candidates more opportunities to take tests;

√ Establishing strategically located Centers for Careers in Government across New York state at select NYSDOL Career Centers where on-site civil service specialists will serve as direct liaisons between the Department of Civil Service, New York state agencies, regional educational institutions, community-based organizations, and jobseekers;

√ Modernizing the Civil Service pay structure to provide more competitive wages so the state can recruit top-tier talent;

√ Modernizing state office buildings to better facilitate telecommuting and hybrid work models;

√ Expanding paid parental leave for New York state employees

√ Launching a Public Service Matters campaign to promote career opportunities with New York state; and

√ Establishing a new award round for the Nurses for our Future scholarship program. This second round of funding will encourage recipients to work in a nursing position with a state agency after graduation to attract the next generation of nurses to rewarding careers in state government.

Hochul Announces Nation-Leading Proposal to Offer Fully- Paid Parental Leave for New York State Employees

Hochul announced a nation-leading proposal to offer fully paid parental leave benefits to New York state employees. Under the initiative, unrepresented state workers will receive 12 weeks of fully paid leave to use for bonding with a newborn, fostered, or adopted child. The governor will also direct the Office of Employee Relations to engage state unions on extending this benefit to their employees through collective bargaining.

"In those precious early days of a baby's life, parents should not have to choose between a paycheck and caring for their newborn child," Hochul said. "By offering fully paid parental leave benefits to New York state employees, New York will continue to lead by example and provide a critical line of support for hardworking families."

Despite the well-documented positive benefits of paid parental leave to maternal and infant health, as well as family economic security and workforce retention, the United States is the only developed country in the world without a national paid parental leave policy. New parents and caregivers depend on a patchwork of various federal, state, and local leave policies, in addition to any employer-sponsored benefits.

New York has long led on leave, enacting the statewide Paid Family Leave (PFL) law in 2016. New York's PFL program provides most private sector employees with job-protected, paid time off to bond with a newly born, adopted or fostered child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or assist loved ones when a member of the family is deployed abroad on active military service. Eligible workers may take up to 12 weeks off at 67% of their pay (up to a cap) in times of need.

In 2021, Hochul signed legislation expanding the law to include caring for a seriously ill sibling.

Paid Family Leave is a critical benefit for many New Yorkers. However, the law does not extend the coverage requirement to public sector employees, and the majority of the state workforce is not currently covered.

Hochul will lead by example and offer state employees 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave to use for bonding with a newborn, fostered, or adopted child. The governor will direct the Office of Employee Relations to institute this policy for all unrepresented employees as soon as possible, and will engage state unions to make progress toward this goal through collective bargaining.

Office of Employee Relations Director Michael Volforte said, "Paid parental leave will make a significant difference to working families. It will help caregivers provide for their families while remaining gainfully employed. Under Gov. Hochul's leadership, I look forward to working with our union partners to extend fully paid parental leave to the New York state workforce."

Hochul Announces Economic Innovation Plan to Grow Jobs & Businesses of Future Across New York State

Hochul announced plans to expand economic opportunity and innovation across New York state through targeted investments, business support, and other programming aimed at high-growth industries. The proposal, which focuses on rapidly growing industry sectors like high technology, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing, includes measures to strengthen the state's supply chain and expand well-established business attraction programs already proven to drive growth. These collective efforts will boost New York's innovation economy and encourage business development and job creation throughout the state.

"New York's status as a hub of innovation is more than just a historical legacy, it charts our path to a brighter and more prosperous future," Hochul said. "By focusing on high-growth industries like high technology, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing, we will continue to unlock new opportunities, keep New York's economy one step ahead of the technological curve and remain a leader in creating the jobs of tomorrow."

New York is already leading the way in creating the jobs of the future. Between 2010 and 2021, 113,000 high-wage jobs were created in the tech sector, encompassing everything from scientific research to software development, and New York businesses raised $53 billion in venture capital in 2021. New York is one of the top states in the nation for life sciences venture capital funding and has welcomed more than 580 new life sciences companies since 2017, adding 9,700 new jobs. Additionally, Micron's historic $100 billion investment in semiconductor manufacturing in Central New York, which will create up to 50,000 new jobs, has reestablished the state as a hub for advanced manufacturing. The continued development of these and other high-growth sectors is key to advancing New York's economy.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "Under Gov. Hochul's Leadership we are implementing a holistic approach to growing the state's economy by promoting New York's strengths to create jobs and provide economic opportunities for all. Gov. Hochul's sound economic strategy will build the state's economy by targeting high growth industries and promoting sustainability, while creating an economy that uplifts all New Yorkers and ensures the future success of our state."

Technology Innovation Matching Program: Hochul has proposed a Technology Innovation Matching Program, which will provide millions of dollars in matching grants for New York companies applying for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, two competitive federal programs - known as "America's Seed Fund" - that incentivize small businesses to engage in research and development with the potential for commercialization. Currently, more than half of states in the nation have a matching grant program for their SBIR/STTR applicants. New York does not — placing New York at a competitive disadvantage in attracting and generating innovation investments. This matching investment will support the growth of small businesses and the development of new scientific advancements, while simultaneously creating jobs and keeping New York competitive with other states for these investments.

Investment in Cell and Gene Therapy: Building on New York's position as a leader in the fast-growing life science sector, Hochul proposed the creation of two Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) centers – one upstate and one downstate. CGT treats diseases, like cancer, by manufacturing reprogrammed patient cells to either repair those that cause disease or kill tumors. With one third of all private investment in 2021 going towards CGT, New York is uniquely positioned to help develop this new, high-growth sub-sector of the life sciences industry. The upstate hub will leverage existing institutions that conduct research and development of cell and gene therapies, and the downstate center will provide direct access to CGT for large patient populations. Each center will engage in cutting-edge clinical research as well as co-locate vital CGT infrastructure, technology, and services.

Strengthening New York's Supply Chain: As recent global economic market supply shortages have demonstrated, securing the state's supply chain is not just critical to ensuring the health and welfare of New Yorkers, but also to avoiding disruption of our economy. Hochul announced a new Made in New York initiative to proactively secure supply chains for critical commodities and products by attracting and supporting those industries that provide essential supplies to manufacture in New York. State agencies will collaborate on identifying key industries to attract that would enhance the state's economic security and prosperity by providing vital products. ESD will then work with those industries and offer targeted incentives to relocate to New York.

Expanding Signature Business Attraction Programs: Hochul is directing Empire State Development to improve and expand existing business attraction programming to incentivize innovation investments and continue growing the jobs and businesses of the future.

√ Improved Excelsior Jobs Program

The Excelsior Jobs Program awards performance-based tax credits for job creation, investment, and research-and-development projects to businesses in targeted industries that are relocating to or growing in New York state. To build on this successful program, Hochul will enhance Excelsior to support additional critical state priorities like assisting disadvantaged communities and populations and advancing the green economy.

Through Excelsior, additional support will be awarded to projects with LEED Silver Certification or higher or that are located within disadvantaged communities. These changes will enhance and expand New York state's efforts to attract businesses and create jobs, while promoting sustainability and making New York a more equitable place to live and work. Excelsior will better reflect the state's priorities surrounding sustainability and generating investments in disadvantaged communities.

√ Extended Prosperity and Innovation Campuses (EPIC)

ESD will launch the Extended Prosperity and Innovation Campuses (EPIC) initiative, to support the growth of new businesses and help form strong partnerships between the private sector and the state's leading educational centers. Technology-related innovations have been strong growth engines for the state, leading to millions of dollars in investments and the creation of high-wage jobs. Hochul knows that with additional support for our existing innovation engines, New York can lead the nation in developing new technologies and reap the benefits of unparalleled economic growth.

EPIC replaces the START-UP NY program, which was hamstrung by its design. Critically, EPIC will: have the same requirements, benefits, and eligibility criteria upstate and downstate; support a wider range of innovation businesses; be streamlined to remove barriers; and increase the amount of space in the state dedicated to growing innovation and creating jobs.

Hochul Announces GO SEMI: The Governor's Office of Semiconductor Expansion, Management, and Integration

Hochul announced GO SEMI: the Governor's Office of Semiconductor Expansion, Management, and Integration to oversee Micron's historic $100 billion investment for a new megafab in Central New York and to lead a broader effort to develop New York's semiconductor industry. GO SEMI, led by Empire State Development, will be supported by experts from numerous state agencies and will work in coordination with our federal and local partners and oversee investments in the semiconductor industry, and will shape and implement a broader, national model for maximizing industry and community returns on such public/private partnerships.

"Micron's historic investment in New York state will create thousands of jobs, cement our manufacturing leadership, and is a testament to businesses seeing opportunities to relocate, grow and thrive in our state," Hochul said. "Our forward-thinking new GO SEMI office will build on that groundbreaking momentum, bringing public and private sector partners together to attract even more investment, jobs and businesses to New York state."

The creation of GO SEMI comes on the heels of Micron's unprecedented $100 billion investment in Central New York to build the largest memory chip fab in the world, and the unprecedented opportunity for growth resulting from New York's Green CHIPS program and the federal CHIPs and Science Act. The Micron project was the result of a historic federal, state and local partnership led by Hochul, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon.

Micron will create nearly 50,000 jobs statewide – 9,000 new high-paying Micron jobs with an average annual salary of over $100,000 and over 40,000 community jobs - and create thousands of prevailing wage construction jobs. When complete, the complex will include the nation's largest clean room space at approximately 2.4 million square feet, the size of nearly 40 football fields.

Consistent with New York state's nation-leading Green CHIPS Act, Micron will draw its electricity from 100% renewable sources and make far reaching sustainability commitments. Micron will also implement a half-billion-dollar community investment framework to ensure that the project benefits the people and communities of Central New York.

GO SEMI will lead and centralize efforts to implement the Micron project; develop and advance policies to attract the semiconductor industry and its supply chain; coordinate workforce development and community investments between local, state, federal, and private partners; lead efforts to create, attract and retain the highly skilled workforce needed; and support cohesive development focused on smart growth principles.

Micron's historic investment adds to New York's already robust semiconductor industry, with which GO SEMI will work closely. New York is currently home to 76 semiconductor companies that employ over 34,000 New Yorkers, including global industry leaders like GlobalFoundries, Wolfspeed, onsemi, and IBM. New York is also home to the world-renowned Albany Nanotech Complex, which is a multibillion-dollar public-private partnership, comprising the most advanced, publicly owned, 300-millimeter semiconductor research and development facility and bringing together premier universities and leading industry players to drive cutting-edge chip development.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "The historic and transformational Micron agreement demonstrates the power of public private partnerships at every level to bring tangible benefits to the people of New York state. GO-SEMI will allow experts from across state agencies to work collaboratively to implement plans and policies that will be paramount to New York state's success in key areas such as workforce development, smart growth, community investment, sustainability and other important elements as well as set a model for equitable and sustainable growth in the semiconductor industry for the rest of the nation to follow."

In addition to Empire State Development, participating agencies and authorities include the Department of Labor, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, New York Power Authority, Department of Transportation, Department of State, Department of Environmental Conservation, Homes and Community Renewal, Department of Public Service and State University of New York and NY CREATES.

Hochul Announces Plans to Build Stronger Health Care System for Future

Hochul announced a series of bold proposals aimed at building a stronger health care system for New York state's future and providing high-quality care for all New Yorkers. These proposals will transform the cost and delivery of care, address the most pressing health needs facing New Yorkers - especially those from underserved communities - and prepare for future public health emergencies.

"Through wise investments, careful planning, and the devoted efforts of the health care workforce, New York's health care system is among the best in the nation," Hochul said. "But as we quickly learned during the pandemic, there are disparities in this system and areas that are strained. These proposals seek to address existing gaps in care, while also planning for future needs, so that all New Yorkers have access to strong and equitable health care."

Building on the historic $20 billion multi-year investment beginning in the FY 2023 Budget, Hochul is proposing measures to build a comprehensive and evidence-based strategy for the health care system. These initiatives are also aimed at strengthening the foundation of the system to address the critical needs of New Yorkers and preparing for future emergencies by establishing a nation-leading public health disease monitoring and surveillance system.

Establish a Commission on the Future of Health Care: The Commission will provide ongoing strategic guidance to transform the health care system in New York state, with a goal to improve access to care, quality of care, and health outcomes. The Commission will identify ways to eliminate waste in the system, and create long-term stability, including a plan for struggling hospitals. The Commission will develop a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy and roadmap for transforming the health care system, guide statewide and regional planning with both short and long-term objectives across the continuum of care, make recommendations on policy, regulation, reimbursement, and other strategies to improve outcomes and transform care delivery, shape the allocation strategy of subsidies for financially distressed hospitals and nursing homes and health care capital, and drive strategic and operational initiatives of health care institutions.

Provide Health Care Capital Funding and Establish a Technology Capital Program: Hochul proposes increasing health care capital funds – both to expand existing transformative capital funding and establish a new capital grant fund to enable technological upgrades that are in line with the state's health care transformation goals. These funds will spur investment in modernization of health care facilities as well as utilization of advanced clinical technologies, cybersecurity tools, and other technological upgrades to improve quality of care, patient experience, accessibility, and efficiency.

Reform Traveling Nurse Agency Staffing Practices and Expand Licensure Flexibility: Hochul will introduce legislation to require staffing agencies to register and report key data about their operations with the goal of increasing transparency into the utilization and costs of contract labor. Legislation will also be advanced to allow health care providers to do more under their licenses and to allow the state to join the Interstate Licensure Compact and the Nurse Licensure Compact, making it easier for physicians and nurses licensed in other states to practice in New York.

Increase Health Care Coverage and Affordability: Hochul will make preventative care more readily available through several modifications to Medicaid coverage, including expanding access to services, such as supportive housing, nutritionists, and doulas, among other changes. Hochul will also submit a waiver to expand the Medicaid buy-in program for New Yorkers with disabilities so they can work and still qualify for coverage. Also proposed are improvements to the Essential Plan, making coverage more affordable and more comprehensive for one million low-income New Yorkers by reducing out-of-pocket costs, expanding benefits, and increasing the availability of providers.

Expand Access to Primary Care: Investments in evidence-based interventions will help improve access to primary care. Hochul will increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care and for school-based health centers and ensure Medicaid coverage for primary and urgent care within the shelter system. Hochul will expand coverage for community health workers who help New Yorkers navigate health and social services. In addition, Hochul will support the integration of primary and mental health care by relaxing licensure restrictions on health care facilities, allowing Medicaid reimbursement for additional types of licensed mental health providers in community health centers and establishing a working group on integrated care.

Protect New Yorkers from Medical Debt: Building on efforts to reduce the burden of medical expenses on New Yorkers, Hochul will create a comprehensive plan to address excessive medical debt. This will include amending the Consumer Credit Fairness Act to cover medical debt, launching an industry and consumer education campaign that addresses medical debt and affordability, and reforming hospital financial assistance applications to require hospitals to use a uniform application form. In addition, building on the Pharmacy Benefits Bureau launched last year, Hochul is proposing to establish the strongest prescription drug price transparency program in the nation by requiring drug manufacturers to report changes in drug prices in advance and make that information publicly available to consumers. The proposal will also bring registration and transparency from additional participants in the historically opaque drug supply chain.

Modernize our Health Reporting Systems: New York will replace outdated health data reporting infrastructure with a nation-leading monitoring and surveillance system to inform targeted and appropriate responses to public health crises and to drive broader health care insights. This will include a first-in-the-nation analytic platform that combines real-time health information with other key data points, like social and chronic condition risk factors, to inform better decision-making.

Rebuild the Wadsworth Laboratories: Building on a $750 million investment in 2019, Hochul will provide additional funding to consolidate the Wadsworth Laboratories, the state's nation-leading public health research laboratory and home to cutting edge research on biomedical and environmental issues critical to protecting the health of New Yorkers. Wadsworth's five unconnected sites located throughout the Capital Region will be consolidated into one state-of-the-art facility on Albany's W. Averell Harriman Campus by 2030.

Strengthen New York's Public Health Emergency Readiness Capacity: Hochul will direct the State Department of Health to commit additional staff resources to work with other state agencies, local and national partners to build robust emergency response plans, conduct emergency response training, and ensure appropriate stockpiling of medical equipment and supplies.

Acting New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "Under Gov. Hochul's leadership, New York renews its ongoing commitment to high-quality, affordable, and accessible health care for all. By expanding access and bringing resources to underserved communities, while also using technology to modernize and improve the public health system, Gov. Hochul's proposals expand on previous historic investments and will help create a health system that is more equitable, efficient, and effective at improving the health of all New Yorkers."

Hochul Announces Initiatives to Help Older New Yorkers Age in Communities of Their Choice

Hochul announced investments and initiatives aimed at helping older New Yorkers live healthy, fulfilling lives while aging with dignity and independence in the communities of their choice. This plan includes broadening access to aging services, improving quality and transparency in long-term care settings, providing funding for home care teams to serve low-income older adults, and providing respite care for caregivers. Hochul also announced investments to revitalize EMS services statewide to help more New Yorkers access health care and reduce unnecessary hospital visits.

"All New Yorkers should be able to age with dignity and independence in the community of their choosing," Hochul said. "These bold initiatives build on our ongoing efforts to empower older adults, create a Master Plan for Aging and maintain New York's status as an age-friendly state. By investing in aging services and quality long-term care, we can ensure our communities are both healthy and livable, with the resources that can help older adults live and thrive."

Building on New York state's status as the first state in the nation to officially receive the age-friendly designation from the AARP and World Health Organization, the initiatives outlined by Hochul are aimed at establishing healthy, livable communities that offer opportunities for older adults, while also improving EMS services and other forms of medical transportation for all New Yorkers. These initiatives include:

Ensuring Access to Aging Services and High-Quality Long-term Care: To address deficiencies in New York state's long-term care system, Hochul proposes expanding access to aging services, high-quality long-term care, and the ability for older New Yorkers and their caregivers to make informed choices on where to seek care.

This includes:

√ Investing in holistic teams to provide care for low-income adults in their home, helping ensure New Yorkers can age in place.

√ Providing respite care for high-need family caregivers, granting relief for those who oversee care of their loved ones.

√ Establishing quality reporting and accreditation for assisted living residences and implementing quality improvement initiatives in nursing homes to promote transparency and make it easier for New Yorkers to make informed choices.

Revitalizing Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Medical Transportation

Hochul proposes broadening the availability of medical transportation options and increasing the number of emergency medical technicians, specifically in rural areas, where access can be limited. This will help broaden access to health care and help reduce unnecessary hospital visits. These proposed initiatives will:

√ Ensure emergency transportation providers are appropriately reimbursed for trips, increasing payment for more complex patients.

√ Establish a working group to recommend ways to expand access to non-emergency medical transportation.

√ Establish nine regional EMS organizations that can better coordinate all the EMS agencies and providers operating within their region and a statewide EMS disaster response system that can rapidly deploy personnel and equipment when and where it is needed during an emergency.

√ Allow EMS providers to perform expanded clinical care in the community.

√ Permit EMTs to treat patients in place or take patients to urgent care clinics without sacrificing payment for the trip, decreasing the number of unnecessary emergency room visits.

Acting New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "Under Gov. Hochul's leadership, and as the nation's first age-friendly state, New York continues to take steps to make sure that our health care system is responsive to the needs of our state's aging population. These proposals will give us the additional resources we need to build upon the creation of our Master Plan for Aging to ensure aging New Yorkers have access to high-quality long-term care and remain active members of the community."

New York State Department of Health Deputy Commissioner for Aging and Long-Term Care Adam Herbst said, "Gov. Hochul continues to demonstrate her commitment to implementing evidence-based policies for addressing some of the biggest challenges for aging New Yorkers. We are grateful for her continued partnership in keeping New York at the forefront of best practices for helping people live longer, happier, and healthier lives."

New York State Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen said, "The governor's plan addresses fundamental needs of older adults to age with dignity and choice as the state works to advance a Master Plan for Aging to provide opportunities and support for all New Yorkers as they age. I applaud the governor for these State of the State proposals to expand community-based care options, improve institutional long-term care for those who need a higher level of care, and enhance emergency medical transportation. Just as important is the governor's focus on helping unpaid family caregivers, 70% of whom reported at least one adverse mental health symptom during the pandemic due to the stresses of their role."

New York has the fourth-largest population of older adults in the United States, with 3.2 million individuals – about 16% of the population – over 65. The state's population of those over the age of 60 is projected to grow to 5.3 million by 2030 with those over 80 years of age exceeding 1.2 million.

Last fall, Hochul signed an Executive Order creating the state's first-ever Master Plan for Aging, a first step toward building a comprehensive roadmap for meeting the socioeconomic needs of all generations of New Yorkers as they age. When completed, the Master Plan for Aging will help to coordinate existing and new state policy and programs for older adults and their families, while also addressing challenges related to communication, coordination, caregiving, long-term care financing, and innovative care models with the overarching aim of furthering the ability for more to age with dignity and independence.

Hochul Announces Agenda to Provide High-Quality Education & Recover From Pandemic Learning Loss

Hochul announced a comprehensive agenda to give every child in New York the tools to succeed through a high-quality education. For the first time since its inception, Hochul is fully funding Foundation Aid – an unprecedented achievement – for all school districts across the state. Foundation Aid takes districts' unique needs into account when allocating funding to address inequities and ensure schools in need receive the funding they deserve. Additionally, the administration is investing $125 million to expand high-quality, full-day prekindergarten and dedicating $250 million to establish high-impact tutoring programs in districts across the state to address student learning lost during the pandemic. Hochul also announced that high school students will be eligible to earn college credits to get a head start on college, reduce student debt, and prepare for their careers.

"All of New York's students deserve access to a high-quality education, from prekindergarten through their college graduation," Hochul said. "By making historic investments in public schools, expanding universal prekindergarten and tutoring programs, and expanding the opportunity to earn college credits in high school, we are carving out a path for students to build a brighter future for themselves and for New York."

This slate of education policies and programs will help New York gain back the ground lost during the pandemic and put students back on track for a brighter future.

Historic New Investments in Public Education: Hochul is fulfilling her commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid, the state's primary education operating aid formula, which allocates state funds to school districts based on need, community wealth, and regional cost differences. She is investing an additional $2.7 billion, an increase of 13%, to a total aid amount of over $24 billion, focusing on students with the greatest needs. New York's education system will provide the highest level of funding per-student of any state in the nation. This historic level of financial support for New York public schools will reverberate for generations to come, broadening access to opportunity and enabling New York to build the education system of the future.

Invest in Full-Day Prekindergarten: Hochul is doubling down on the state's investments in early childhood education in order to move New York closer to truly universal prekindergarten. This year, she will add another $125 million to expand high quality, full-day prekindergarten, benefitting approximately 17,500 additional 4-year-old children and their families and bringing the state's total annual investment in high-quality prekindergarten to $1.2 billion. With this funding, the state will be roughly 95% phased-in in terms of full universal prekindergarten coverage for 4-year-old children.

Establish Statewide High-Impact Tutoring Programs to Address Pandemic Learning Loss: Hochul is determined to get our students back on track to address the instruction time lost to the pandemic. The administration will dedicate $250 million of the historic increase in Foundation Aid to establish high-impact tutoring programs in districts across the state. The programs will be established by school districts, either in-house or in partnership with external providers, and focus on assisting students in reading and math in grades 3-8.

The effects of the pandemic on student learning were particularly acute in New York. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the percentage of fourth-grade students in New York performing at or above basic proficiency levels dropped 10 percentage points in math (from 76% to 66%) and 8 percentage points in reading (from 66% to 58%), a larger drop than the national average.

"High-impact tutoring" is one of the interventions that has been shown to be consistently effective in helping students get back on track and meaningfully increase academic achievement. Each student served will receive additional instructional time customized to their individual needs. Effective programs will include multiple sessions per week and will result in meaningful relationships between tutors and students. A meta-analysis of studies found that, on average, tutoring increased achievement by the equivalent of 3 to 15 months of additional regular learning.

Create Programs to Provide College Credits to High School Students: Hochul will invest an additional $20 million to support the establishment of new early college high school and P-TECH programs that allow students to earn college credits in high school. College-level courses provided in high schools allow students to get a head start on college, reduce their student debt, and prepare for a career. To encourage the growth of these programs across the state, new funding will be targeted to school districts working in collaboration with institutions of higher education and industry partners to inform the design of their programs. With an eye toward the technology jobs of the present and future – including the tens of thousands of jobs that will be created in Central New York as a result of the Micron project—programs focused on computer science and computer and software engineering pathways will be prioritized, as will programs serving students in high-need school districts.

Hochul Announces Initiatives to Provide Economic Boost to Farmers, Strengthen New York's Food Supply Chain

Hochul announced several major proposals to provide an economic boost to farmers and strengthen New York's food supply chain. New York's agricultural industry has faced a number of challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also brought to light vulnerabilities across the local food system. The governor unveiled plans to bolster demand for New York state foods and dramatically increase the purchasing of local farm products, encourage investments to modernize New York's farms, and build an agricultural workforce pipeline for the future.

"New York's agricultural industry is essential to our economy, our communities, and our way of life, and we are taking a whole-of government-approach, to support New York's agricultural community," Hochul said. "These initiatives will take critical steps to help the agricultural community prosper – providing an economic boost to New York farmers and securing the state's food supply chain."

Use State Purchasing Power to Bolster Demand for New York Agriculture: As part of the 2023 State of the State, the governor has proposed launching a new initiative to boost demand for New York's agricultural products and significantly increase the amount of food purchased by New York state agencies. Using hugely successful programs, such as the State's Farm-to-School program, its 30% New York school food initiative, and the Nourish New York program as a benchmark, the governor has set a bold goal to increase state agency purchasing of local food products to 30%. She will issue an Executive Order directing New York state agencies and related institutional entities to increase the percentage of food they source from New York producers, with a target of 30%. This will provide farmers with not only access to new markets and stimulate further economic investments in farm production and food processing in New York, but it will also provide a direct economic boost to the agricultural community. New York state currently spends almost $4 million on New York food; through this effort, New York would procure and purchase nearly $400 million worth of farm products from local producers. County and municipal governments, as well as local school districts, will also be encouraged and provided tools to meet this goal.

In addition, the governor has proposed providing $50 million over five years to local school districts to support cooking facilities that will facilitate the use of fresh New York state farm products in meal preparation for K-12 school children. The School Food Infrastructure Grant Program will provide the resources schools need to aggregate, store, process, and prepare farm products, and make cooking homemade meals that are prepared on-site for school children possible.

Make the Investment Tax Credit Refundable: Hochul is proposing to build on her recently adopted 20% Investment Tax Credit for farmers by making the tax credit refundable for five years. This refundable tax credit will provide an incentive for additional on-farm production investment, such as the purchase of equipment, including state-of-the-art anaerobic biodigesters that can decrease emissions. Following a period where New York farms faced many challenges, including supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic, uncertainties in the marketplace, and increased labor costs, this proposal will help New York's producers modernize their farms and better compete in the future.

Create a Farm Workforce Pipeline: Understanding that labor is a critical component of the supply chain, the governor has pledged to build a strong agricultural workforce pipeline and address the food supply workforce shortage by ensuring training and educational programs are readily available for current employees and for future generations. The governor is proposing to have the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (AGM) work with key stakeholders to identify internships and apprenticeships for young people and those interested in a second career in the areas of horticulture, dairy management, crop production, food manufacturing, food distribution, and other related industries. AGM will also collaborate with educational institutions across the state to ensure that the necessary programs that will help students meet agricultural industry requirements for employment are being offered. In addition, connections will be made with workforce development entities to match and place the new workforce directly with industry opportunities.

The initiative will also focus on connecting migrant individuals and asylum seekers with agricultural and food industry jobs, including proposing to increase funding for legal services, which will support these individuals in achieving legal work status. The governor is also proposing that AGM partner with agricultural organizations to assist migrant workers with employment services, such as screening, language education, basic skill development, and placement.

Increase Food Manufacturing: The governor recognizes the need for additional agricultural processing capacity to help alleviate the gaps in the supply chain. She will direct Empire State Development (ESD) and AGM to ensure New York's food manufacturing sector continues to grow and expand. ESD and AGM will assemble an interagency team that will work with new and expanding food manufacturers to ensure that obstacles and solutions are identified during project development, evaluate existing incentives and make recommendations for new programs to spur further investment in food manufacturing in the state.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "We have truly doubled down on our work to fill the gaps in the food system, and I am proud of the collaboration that has been taking place across the industry as we work together on this. In this new year, we have new opportunity and I want to thank Gov. Hochul for moving this work forward, and proposing bold initiatives that will have a real impact, strengthening our food system from the agricultural community to the consumer."

The governor has also proposed a number of additional programs in the 2023 State of the State address to impact agriculture, including enhancing New York's community garden programming and a $10 million grant program to support the establishment of farm markets, supermarkets, food cooperatives, and other similar retail food stores, along with supporting infrastructure in underserved communities and regions of the state. The program will improve food access opportunities in traditionally underserved communities.

Hochul Announces Expansion of State's Major Investments in Cybersecurity Initiatives

Hochul announced $35.2 million in new funding to support cybersecurity enhancements statewide, including the expansion of shared services to local governments that help identify security gaps that could be exploited by an adversary. Building upon nation-leading legislation to protect against cyberthreats to the state's energy grid recently signed by the governor, the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will establish a first-ever in specialized industrial control system assessment team to help protect critical infrastructure and manufacturing systems across the state and make those systems more resilient to cyberattacks.

"The frequency, magnitude, and impact of cyber-attacks have increased, but we will continue to take bold measures to secure and protect New York's critical infrastructure," Hochul said. "The Industrial Control Systems assessment team, coupled with record investments, will support physical security and cybersecurity assessment programs to help facilities improve their cybersecurity posture, creating a safer and more secure Empire State."

This $35.2 million increase builds upon Hochul's historic, $61.9 million cybersecurity investment in the FY 2023 Budget . New York's leadership in finance, energy, transportation, health care, semiconductors, and other critical fields makes the state a target for cyberattacks and other cyber threats, and the frequency, magnitude, and impact of these events continue to increase. Ransomware attacks, in which hackers hold data and systems hostage, rose 13% nationwide in 2021, and since 2017, more than 3,600 state, local, and tribal governments across the country have been attacked.

The DHSES' Office of Counterterrorism will create the industrial control systems (ICS) assessment team to better protect residents from cyberattacks and their effects. Working alongside the agency's physical security and cybersecurity assessment programs, the team will help energy, transportation, manufacturing and other critical infrastructure systems to improve their overall security posture and make their industrial control systems more resilient to cyberattacks.

New York State Chief Cyber Officer Colin Ahern said, "As the threats to our digital infrastructure continue to evolve and grow in sophistication, it is more important than ever that we invest in the resources to protect New Yorkers from cyber threats. Gov. Hochul's continued leadership will help ensure that New York's critical infrastructure grows more resilient against these threats."

New York State Chief Information Officer Angelo "Tony" Riddick said, "These historic investments in cybersecurity advanced by Gov. Hochul will build on the progress we made in the last year establishing JSOC and implementing effective endpoint detection technology for awareness and action, and is consistent with our whole of state approach, where the state and local governments face down these challenges together. As the state agency charged with protecting the state's systems from intrusion or attack, we know the threat is real and thank Gov. Hochul for prioritizing enhanced cybersecurity once again this year so we can better secure our assets and protect all New Yorkers."

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "New York has ramped up its cyber defense capabilities under Gov. Hochul's leadership and 2023 will continue to build on these historic investments. Making our critical infrastructure more resilient has never been more important. DHSES looks forward to building on our partnerships with Critical Infrastructure operators to enhance cybersecurity and limit disruptions in the years ahead."

The proposed funding will also support the provision of cybersecurity services to county and local governments in FY 2024 and beyond, building upon Gov. Hochul's creation of the first New York State Joint Security Operations Center. These shared services help county and local governments assess and remedy gaps in their cyber defenses. The shared services complement the State's ongoing efforts to build a common picture of cyber threats shared by cybersecurity teams from federal, state, city and county governments, publicly and privately owned critical infrastructure, and State agencies including the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Office of Information Technology Services, New York State Police, among others.

Hochul Announces Plan to Help Government Work Better For New Yorkers

Hochul announced a plan to make government work better for New Yorkers by transforming the way New Yorkers access services and benefits from State agencies. The State will implement significant technological enhancements to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and improve access to child care assistance, tax credits, and critical food benefits for women, infants, and children; reduce call wait times; implement e-signature technology; launch "one ID" to improve how residents interact with certain State agencies online; and modernize State agency websites and applications to improve the user experience. In order to help State agencies efficiently deliver results to New Yorkers and ensure that this initiative is successful, the governor will appoint a new Chief Customer Experience Officer to oversee this statewide transformation. Hochul will also sign the State's first Executive Order on customer experience to build on this initiative and improve access to State services.

"Since transforming the customer service experience at the DMV as Erie County Clerk, I have been committed to making government work for New Yorkers," Hochul said. "By eliminating bureaucratic hurdles, simplifying processes, and utilizing new technology, we will vastly improve the way New Yorkers access services and benefits from State agencies."

"New Yorkers deserve easy and direct access to State agency services," Delgado said. "I am proud to stand alongside Gov. Hochul in announcing this initiative that will cut through the red tape and efficiently connect New Yorkers to critical benefits and services statewide."

New Yorkers commonly face significant hurdles when seeking out benefits and services, whether filing for unemployment insurance, getting a driver's license renewed, filing taxes, or signing up for benefits programs. Residents may need to take time off from work to attend in-person appointments, parse through lengthy applications and navigate archaic websites. These administrative burdens amount to a "time tax" on individuals, especially those who are poor, and hinders their ability to obtain critical safety net services that have been proven to lift families out of poverty.

The governor's plan will put New Yorkers at the center of service delivery and result in faster processing times, greater efficiency, and improved interactions with government.

Simplify the Child Care Assistance Application Process: New York's child care assistance program is state-supervised and locally administered, which means residents navigate different eligibility requirements depending on where they live. Less than 10% of children in families that are income-eligible for the program participate, with enrollment declining over the past 10 years even while federal funding has increased and demand for affordable child care grows.

The state will simplify the documentation process, standardize eligibility and benefits across counties, and launch a statewide electronic solution that will allow families to pre-screen for eligibility and apply for child care assistance. The governor's plan also will simplify the application process and remove duplicative paperwork for families participating in Medicaid and other programs.

Improve the Client Experience for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children: About half of the families eligible for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, participate in the program and those enrolled in the program do not consistently use their food benefits. To determine what is preventing eligible families from participating and taking full advantage of the program, the State will gather client feedback through live chat, email, text, and surveys and use that information to improve the delivery of WIC services.

Streamline Access to Tax Credits: Each year, between 6% and 18% of New Yorkers who are eligible for the State's Earned Income Tax Credit, and at least 4% who are eligible for the Empire State Child Credit, do not claim these credits. Use of surface mail by the State Department of Taxation and Finance also contributes to missed refunds, refund adjustments or potential bills for New Yorkers.

To address this, the Department of Taxation and Finance will implement a "mobile document upload" that will allow taxpayers to provide documentation using their mobile devices; and implement direct deposit capability for School Tax Relief credits to reduce the need to mail paper checks to beneficiaries. These proposals will save the State time and money and ensure that more New Yorkers receive the financial assistance they and their families need.

Save Time for Residents and State Workers with E-Signature Technology: New York State agencies process more than 10 million paper transactions annually. Even when applications are available online, some documents cannot be signed electronically. This means forms must be printed, signed, and scanned, resulting in slower processing times and delaying access to services and benefits. Hochul's plan will accelerate the use of electronic signature technology, with a select group of agencies implementing this option by the end of 2023.

Lower Call Wait Times and Reduce Reliance on Phone Calls: Hochul proposes to accelerate the adoption of platforms that will enable residents to interact with State workers at select agencies through their preferred method of communication – live chat, text, email or voice calls. Using artificial intelligence-powered chatbots and voice automation to answer the most common questions will improve the efficiency of agency staff and allow them to assist more residents who opt to call or visit an office daily. At the Department of Motor Vehicles, this effort will reduce caller wait time by 30% and eliminate 200,000 calls annually over the next five years.

Launch "One ID for New York State" to Improve Digital Access: Many New Yorkers currently have different usernames and passwords for State agency websites and applications. This causes confusion, results in forgotten credentials, creates security risks, and requires many residents to submit duplicative information when trying to access services provided by different agencies. The NY.GOV ID+ will provide a single, verified login across State government that gives individuals full control of their personal information, makes it easier to verify and secure their identities, prevents fraudulent account creation or access, and provides for a more seamless customer experience.

Building First-Rate Digital and Design Teams: New York State has more than 100 websites, 1,000 web applications and administers thousands of online transactions. Many of these websites are replete with acronyms and bureaucratic language and some are still not optimized to work on a mobile device, despite an average of more than half of New Yorkers accessing them that way.

Hochul will expand the State's capacity for web design, including growing the team of user researchers, designers and digital professionals to ensure that websites, applications and online transactions are user-friendly, understandable, accessible and adequately serving New Yorkers.

New York State Chief Information Officer Angelo "Tony" Riddick said, "Creating a 'One ID' system for access to New York State Government Services will allow our residents to smoothly consolidate their existing NY.gov ID accounts, quickly verify their identities, and help the State better prevent fraud while ensuring a simple and seamless path to State services for eligible New Yorkers. In addition, it will provide baseline efficiencies that further improve processes going forward. We commend Gov. Hochul for recognizing that interacting with State government does not have to be a difficult experience, and for her support of this comprehensive initiative that will strengthen our relationship with our customers and get them the assistance they need and deserve."

Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, "Child care is critical for working families, especially women, to reach their full career potential while knowing their children are in a safe, nurturing environment. Assistance programs open doors to these foundational services where they may not otherwise be possible, and we must do everything to ensure eligible New Yorkers don't face barriers to receive this vital funding. I thank Gov. Hochul for taking another important step to expand access to child care as more parents seek employment, training and educational opportunities to strengthen the health and well-being of their families."

Taxation and Finance Acting Commissioner Amanda Hiller said, "Improving the customer experience is at the forefront of the Tax Department's mission. Thanks to Gov. Hochul's leadership, we're modernizing our systems to accommodate cutting-edge solutions that will enhance our service to New Yorkers, including the delivery of valuable tax credits."

Department of Health Acting Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "Improving services and benefits to New Yorkers through improved technology will greatly enhance access to critical services offered by the Department of Health. Families that rely on the Department's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program should have easy access without the burden of navigating cumbersome bureaucratic obstacles. I thank Gov. Hochul for her leadership in expanding the State's capacity to serve the needs of all New Yorkers."

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "We thank Gov. Hochul for her attention to efforts to make the customer service experience better for the thousands of people we deal with on a daily basis. Our agency is already employing a limited live chat option for customers to interact with our Contact Center staff with questions about the status of a license, permit or registration and about REAL ID or enhanced licenses. We have already found that customers face shorter wait times to contact an agent and that by pre-filling information about what they are looking for, the process is sped up for the customer and clearer to everyone involved. This assistance from the governor will go a long way toward helping us achieve the goals of our ongoing transformation initiatives, including bringing the DMV to where the customer is and changing the public's image about us and what we do each day."

Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her 2023 State of the State address in the Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol. (Photo by Don Pollard/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)



•Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt: Today’s State of the State speech by Gov. Hochul follows the Senate Republicans’ call for a safer, stronger and more affordable New York. While the governor echoed our themes, she ignored the stark reality that one-party, progressive policies have made New York less safe and less affordable. New Yorkers deserve action that matches the rhetoric.

On issues like bail reform, mental health, housing and affordability, we hope the governor will deliver real solutions for New Yorkers and ignore the hysterics from the progressive left.

Unfortunately, the governor’s speech included policies that will make life more difficult for struggling families and small businesses. Touting unachievable energy policies, new mandates on small business and state-driven housing policies will only drive up costs for overburdened New Yorkers, chasing out even more taxpayers and more jobs.

As we continue to examine the full details of her proposals, my Senate Republican colleagues and I are ready to take action on common-sense policies that make New York safer, stronger, more affordable and more free. 

•New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher: Gov. Hochul’s State of the State recognizes some of the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture, and her proposals to expand markets and tax credits are much appreciated. This includes a plan to make the investment tax credit refundable and increase state procurement of New York farm products. We also support efforts to expand urban agriculture in the state and shore up our workforce through job training and increased manufacturing. However, labor costs continue to rise, putting increased pressure on our farms' sustainability. New York Farm Bureau is concerned that a plan to boost the minimum wage will exacerbate that problem and further push up inflationary costs.

Our farms depend on a strong economy, investment in critical agricultural programs, and reasonable regulations. New York Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the governor to build on today’s agenda and improve our agricultural and food system that benefits all New Yorkers.

•New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli: As we embark on a new year and legislative session, the State of the State message delivered by Gov. Kathy Hochul set forth her agenda. State government is here to work for the people of this state and make life better and more equitable for all New Yorkers. Her top priorities, including addressing the affordable housing crisis, fighting back on crime, and investing in high quality health care, education, and infrastructure, are the same priorities shared by all New Yorkers.

We are now entering the third year of the lingering effects of COVID-19 on our health and economy. As the nation continues to recover from pandemic aftershocks, the state’s fiscal footing is currently stable, but the economy remains uneven, and inflation is still too high. To prepare for future risks and uncertainties, rainy day reserve targets should be met, spending plans should be cautious, and prudent debt practices should be restored.

We arrive in 2023 having persevered; still recovering, but well on our way back. I look forward to more specifics in the upcoming budget presentation at the end of the month.

•New York State County Executives' Association President and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz: Today, in her State of the State address, Gov. Hochul outlined a broad agenda aimed at tackling some of the most pressing issues facing our state and our counties, including the rising cost of living, the lack of affordable housing, and threats to public safety. As county leaders, we've been confronting these issues on the ground in communities across the state for years, and welcome the opportunity to work with Gov. Hochul and the State Legislature to make New York state a safer, stronger, more affordable place to live.

•Alliance for Quality Education: “The completion of the Foundation Aid phase-in announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul today marks a historic milestone for New York state’s public schools, and the beginning of a new and long overdue chapter in the fight for education justice in New York,” said Jasmine Gripper, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education.

Thirty years after the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit was filed and 16 years after the Foundation Aid formula was enacted, this year New York state will at long last fully fund public schools – for the first time in its history – with a $2.7 billion increase in Foundation Aid. For decades, this fight has been spearheaded by dedicated parents and students in Black, brown and low-income communities. The governor’s commitment to equity for New York’s students is commendable. Her announcement today represents a momentous shift, both politically and in the real-life impact it will have on students in classrooms throughout the state. It is a breath of fresh air that the governor of New York, the first woman in that role, is upholding her promises to our students.

AQE is excited to see New York State finally fulfill its commitment to students by fully funding Foundation Aid. This much needed funding will support our neediest schools. New York’s school districts are still grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with one-time federal aid running out, the essential programs that have been funded with those dollars will need to be picked up by the state. The state’s infusion of resources, equitably distributed through the Foundation Aid formula, will help enable New York’s students to thrive. We look forward to seeing these resources transform the opportunities and lives of students today and in the generations to come.

•New York State Association of REALTORS: NYSAR applauds Gov. Kathy Hochul for working to address New York state’s massive shortage of affordable for-sale and rental housing. Too many New Yorkers have limited options for housing, largely because the stock of affordable entry level units is at all time low levels.

For too long, New York has focused almost solely on incentives to purchase or rent. While these efforts address one level of the housing crisis, they lose a measure of their value when the supply of affordable housing is practically non-existent. To illustrate the situation, NYSAR has reported that the number of homes for sale in New York state has dropped every month since November 2019 in year-over-year comparisons.

Gov. Hochul, Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins have all publicly stated that affordable housing construction is a top priority, and NYSAR stands ready to assist their efforts.

We support the governor’s New York State Housing Compact, including incentives to repurpose commercial space and hotels for residential housing and increased state support for the creation of 800,000 new homes over the next decade, all of which builds on last year’s $25 billion investment to create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

Also key to successfully moving forward is a commitment by New York state and its local governments to improve the regulatory climate that currently does not promote housing development. We encourage all lawmakers and regulators to rethink local building code and zoning rules that have been a root cause of the current housing shortage.

Even with action by lawmakers this session, rebuilding our housing stock will take years. In the meantime, they can also take forward steps by rooting out illegal discrimination in the purchase of a cooperative apartment and incentivizing New Yorkers to save for the purchase of a home.

The need for leadership is as critical as the housing shortage itself. We look forward to working with policymakers at all levels of government to give New Yorkers the affordable housing opportunities they need and deserve.

•New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Robert Schneider: School boards are pleased to hear assurances from Gov. Kathy Hochul that public education will be an important part of her vision for a New York that provides a welcoming environment for families, individuals and employers.

We thank the governor for her continued commitment to fully funding foundation aid, expanding full-day pre-kindergarten, and establishing new early college high school and P-TECH programs. All of these initiatives will greatly benefit our students.

We look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to set up a plan for the future of foundation aid. This includes conducting a costing out study to determine the true cost of providing an adequate education for all of the students of New York state, updating the components of the foundation aid formula as needed, and providing minimum required aid increases for districts that would otherwise be left out by the current version of the formula.

We are encouraged by the governor’s support of reforms to make the property tax cap fair for all stakeholders – a priority for school boards – and we await more details about the governor’s commitment to providing the necessary continuum of mental health care for New Yorkers, including students. Her emphasis on school-based supports for students is a welcome recognition that educators want and need tools to help our students overcome mental health challenges so they can thrive academically and socially.

In addition, as the session unfolds, we look forward to working with the governor as we advocate for a universal school meals program to ensure that all students are offered a nutritious breakfast and lunch each day. Healthy school meals are an important building block of student success.

Based on our review of the governor’s initiatives for this legislative session, we anticipate a promising session for our public schools.

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta: Gov. Hochul's historic commitment to invest in our public schools is a huge step forward and is exactly what our state needs. Fully funded Foundation Aid will dramatically improve the lives of students, educators and families across New York.

We celebrate the governor's ongoing commitment to building a world-class public education system that supports New Yorkers at every stage of their educational lives, from universal pre-K to affordable, equitable higher education through operating aid for SUNY, CUNY and community colleges.

We applaud her pledge to seriously address mental health concerns affecting students, families and educators across the state. This is a vital step to help ensure the safety of our schools and improve long-term outcomes for our students.

We also commend the governor's plan to connect the state minimum wage to inflation, providing much-needed financial relief to families across the state.

We're eager to review the governor's full budget proposal later this month and look forward to working with her and our partners in the Legislature to ensure that the final state budget delivers on the recommendations we outlined in our Future Forward report

As always, NYSUT will continue to advocate for our members who selflessly devote themselves, day in and day out, to the communities they serve.


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