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EXCLUSIVE: Hochul’s initiatives are ambitious, but lawmakers in Albany will need to find funding sources

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State initiatives are ambitious for the state’s future. The focus now is on how to make them a reality.

In particular, children’s advocates feel the governor’s promises to bolster literacy and child mental health are much needed.



New York has ranked poorly in both focus areas in recent polls and studies. Community hospitals have received $50 million to expand mental health treatment, for children and adults.

Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York, argued poor literacy skills have been an issue far too long.

“We hear from families of older students, who haven’t learned the fundamental reading skills they need to fill out a job application or to read their science textbook,” Levine reported.


Hochul’s plans come at a time when the state will need to step up and fund them. Because federal pandemic education funds are drying up, some schools are facing fiscal cliffs. New York City schools are seeing unique circumstances, since Mayor Eric Adams is proposing $500 million in cuts to education programs. Levine and others are awaiting Hochul’s budget proposal on Tuesday to know what role the state plans to play.

States across the country face reading deficiencies. It has been a long-standing issue, made worse during the pandemic. Levine noted those years especially took a toll on marginalized students’ ability to learn.

“Students with disabilities had a difficult time, in many cases, learning through a screen,” Levine recounted. “Students who are English language learners, who didn’t have a parent fluent in English to sit with them and have them navigate the computer system.”

And yet, even as children are back in classrooms, a National Council on Teacher Quality report found 40% of reading instruction is counterproductive to effectively teaching kids how to read.