Governor Kathy Hochul gave her first State of the State address on Tuesday, outlining an array of policy positions that could turn into legislation or action over the next few months.
It includes 147 initiatives aimed at making the state more affordable and safer.
One of the major focuses of Governor Hochul’s plans is to address rising costs of living. To do this, she plans to raise the state’s minimum wage annually, tying it to the growth in year-over-year Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners for the Northeast Region. Not only will this increase the minimum wage for all low-income workers, but it would specifically benefit women and people of color who comprise a disproportionate share of minimum wage workers.
Another key area of focus for Governor Hochul is making childcare more affordable, accessible, and fair. To streamline the childcare application process, she proposes a statewide electronic solution which would allow families to pre-screen for eligibility. She also plans to expand eligibility for child care assistance by raising the income limit to the maximum that is allowed by federal law, or approximately $93,200. In addition, she plans to use unspent federal funds to establish a new Workforce Retention Grant Program to provide to child care providers to 17,000 programs across the state.
Governor Hochul also announced steps to strengthen the state’s safe harbor for abortion care and expand abortion access on SUNY and CUNY campuses by allowing pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception.
The Governor aims to build a stronger future health care system and announced plans to establish a Commission on the Future of Health Care. This proposal will provide health care capital funding and establish a technology capital program. The Governor plans to reform traveling nurses agency staffing practices and expand licensure flexibility, with the hope of making preventative care more available through modifications to Medicaid coverage.
In addition, Governor Hochul announced initiatives to provide an economic boost to farmers in order to strengthen New York’s food supply. This proposal will launch a new initiative to boost demand for the state’s agricultural products and subsequently increase the amount of food purchased by New York State agencies. She also proposed providing $50 million over five years to school districts to support cooking facilities that facilitate the use of fresh New York farm products.
In her address, Governor Hochul also touched on the issue of housing and mental health, highlighting the need to address these critical issues to improve the overall well-being of New Yorkers, and detailing how her proposals will achieve it.
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