New York Governor Kathy Hochul, in her third State of the State address on Tuesday, January 9th, highlighted her strategic plan for New York, focusing on tackling mental health challenges, retail theft, illegal cannabis stores, and the affordability crisis.
Delivered from the Assembly Chamber, Hochul declared that the state’s progress under her leadership since 2021 has seen improvements in safety and affordability.
However, she recognized that many New Yorkers still harbor concerns about the increased crime rates during the COVID-19 pandemic and are burdened by excessively high housing expenses.
“If [the] government can’t keep our citizens safe, then nothing else matters,” Hochul stated, acknowledging both the reduction in violent crime and the persistent “atmosphere of anxiety” in the state.
Hochul’s address outlined her priorities for the coming year, including a $20 million initiative to combat domestic violence and strategies to tackle retail theft, involving a new State Police squad and stricter penalties.
A main part of her agenda involves improving mental health services, an area she believes has been underfunded. Plans for 2024 include establishing mental health courts and coordinating efforts through the state Mental Health Office.
“We have such a serious problem on our hands…this is the defining challenge of our time,” Hochul remarked, highlighting the urgency of addressing mental health issues.
Addressing the state’s outmigration and housing crisis, Hochul proposed a $500 million fund to construct 15,000 housing units on state-owned land near train stations and prisons, along with a fresh initiative to assist New York City in creating affordable housing, repurposing office buildings, and legalizing basement apartments.
Hochul said, “So what are [we] waiting for? Let’s unleash New York City’s potential, beginning this session. Do you agree with that Mayor Adams?” Hochul said.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who was present in Albany during the speech, responded with a smile and a thumbs-up.
The governor also advocated for the automatic admission of the top 10% of high school seniors to SUNY and CUNY, removing offensive depictions of indigenous people from the state capital, and planting 25 million trees over the next decade.
The governor acknowledged a projected $4 billion budget deficit, emphasizing fiscal responsibility and the need for creative use of taxpayer dollars.
In New York City, Hochul’s plans include a $7.5 billion extension of the Second Avenue Subway, new pools, and a ban on uncertified lithium-ion-powered e-bikes.
She also proposed enhancing the paid family leave program to include additional time for prenatal care and expressed support for lowering the city’s speed limits to 20 mph.
On the migrant crisis, Hochul briefly mentioned her intention to address this in her upcoming budget plan, having previously committed nearly $2 billion in state support.
Mayor Adams, attending the speech, expressed alignment with Hochul’s approach, stating, “She has been a partner. I’m not disappointed: She acknowledged the fact that she’s going to be talking about the asylum issue in her budgetary address.”