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Gov. Hochul Proposes Relief For Families, Health Care Workers, Businesses, And Farmers In First State Of The State Address

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Darren McGee/Darren McGee- Office of Governor
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Gov. Hochul delivers her state of the state address to a mostly empty assembly chamber Wednesday.

Governor Kathy Hochul became the first woman to deliver the annual state of the state address in New York Wednesday in what was a clear departure from years past. There was no pomp and circumstance that usually goes with the event. The scaled back occasion was partly due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

But also notable was the lack of flashy graphics, power points, and applause from a crowded venue. It was just the governor, in a sparsely occupied assembly chamber, acknowledging that we’re still in a pandemic that demands a strong response to bolster the state’s strained healthcare infrastructure.

"That's why I'm setting an ambitious goal to grow our health care workforce by 20 percent over the next five years. And, we'll make the largest investment in health care in state history...$10 billion."

She’s also proposing a retention bonus of up to three thousand dollars for health and direct care workers to stop the hemorrhaging. There’s also relief for families. Hochul says one part of her plan starts with property taxes.

"We'll provide a $1 billion middle class property tax rebate to more than two million homeowners. And help get parents back to work. We're going to expand access to affordable childcare to 100,000 more working families, and invest $75 million in child care worker wages."

Hochul says she will also accelerate a $1.2 billion tax cut for six million taxpayers.

She’s also proposing $100 million in relief for small businesses, including struggling restaurants and bars. Farmers will get tax credits for overtime hours and a doubling of the farm workforce retention credit. Hochul also plans investments in workforce development programs to better match people to training to jobs to help address the shortage of trained workers.

"We're going to incentivize success by tying a portion of workforce funding to high job placement rates, and we're going to make it easier to qualify as an MWBE so everyone has access to opportunities."

MWBE stands for minority and women owned business enterprises.

Hochul also promised to restore faith and trust in government, including previously announced plans to impose two term limits for statewide officials.

"For government to work, those of us in power cannot continue to cling to it. We need to continually pass the baton to new leaders with different perspectives and fresh ideas. Our reforms include a ban on outside income for statewide officials because our only job should be to serve the people of New York."

Wednesday’s address marks the beginning of the legislative session and soon, budget season, where many of Hochul’s more than 220 proposals will be debated. She says she hopes to build upon the progress of her first 134 days so far in office, where she’s signed more than 400 bills into law.

SENATORS PLEASED

The Syracuse area’s two state senators say they’re pleased with what they heard in Governor Kathy Hochul’s state of the state address. Senator Rachel May was glad to hear about a strong commitment to support the strained healthcare workforce by investing in recruitment and retention programs.

"We face critical staffing issues at all levels, so her emphasis on raising wages and helping more people enter the workforce is welcome. I am especially focused on ensuring that my Fair Pay for Home Care legislation is addressed in the enacted budget, to guarantee expanded home care options for New York families and dignified wages for home care workers," May said in a statement.

She says she also supports the proposed income and property tax cuts.

Senator John Mannion agrees that tax relief needs to be at the top of the agenda. He also says the investment in public health and other direct care workers is desperately needed to recover from the pandemic.

"The $500M for human services agencies is a necessary investment to fortify a beleaguered and depleted workforce. I am committed to ensuring these funds – and additional funds – are directed toward OPWDD and the disabilities community."

Both senators say proposed support for small businesses, job creation, and investing in public education is the path forward for the coming year.

BUSINESS GROUP OPTIMISTIC

The head of the region’s leading business leadership organization says today’s state of the state address by Governor Kathy Hochul makes it clear New York has entered a new era of leadership. Centerstate CEO president Rob Simpson in a statement applauds her commitment to better meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, but especially small firms with tax relief and workforce development initiatives. He also appreciates the governor’s emphasis on investments in shovel-ready sites.

"New York also needs to be ready to compete for new opportunities that will emerge across the country as companies re-shore operations and develop new assets within the U.S. The governor’s emphasis on investment in shovel-ready sites positions our state to grow. Just as vital, rapid advances are being made by a surge of startup tech firms that have been launched over the last two years," Simpson said.