On Jan. 5, Gov. Kathy Hochul delivered her first State of the State address and outlined her priorities for the upcoming state budget. Some of her key goals include bolstering the health care and education workforces, expanding access to childcare, establishing a property tax rebate for middle-class homeowners, supporting small businesses, and increasing government transparency. As New York continues to rebuild, these initiatives will further our state’s recovery and help increase trust between elected officials and the people they represent.
New York’s health care sector continues to absorb the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of the essential health care workers who have been on the front lines since March 2020 are struggling with burnout and trauma. Gov. Hochul plans to grow the health care workforce by 20% in five years. Her plan includes increasing wages and awarding retention bonuses for current health care workers while offering free tuition for in-state health care professionals. The plan would also cover instructional costs for high-demand health occupations and provide workers with stipends to make up for lost income while in school.
Even before the onset of COVID-19, New York’s education sector suffered from low teacher retention and a lack of support for part-time students. The Governor plans to expand the education workforce by accelerating the teacher certification process and temporarily removing income limits on retired teachers. The plan would also give current employees greater access to higher education by expanding part-time tuition assistance programs, permitting work experiences to count toward degree credits, and providing financial support for non-degree workforce training at SUNY and CUNY institutions. Additionally, the $1 billion ConnectALL initiative would deliver affordable broadband to millions of New Yorkers.
To help small businesses, the Governor’s plan would provide a tax credit to small businesses that took on COVID-related capital expenses, provide reduced interest rates and accessible loans to expanding small businesses, and provide flexible grants to recently opened small businesses. Gov. Hochul also proposes immediately implementing a middle-class property tax cut initially intended to take effect in 2025, providing tax relief to over 6 million New York taxpayers.
Quality childcare is a necessity for working parents and has shown itself to be an important factor in the state’s economic recovery. Gov. Hochul is committed to expanding access to childcare, either with the assistance of the federal Build Back Better Act, or by increasing the child-care eligibility cutoff from 200% of the federal poverty line to 225%. The Governor’s plan also includes a wage increase for child-care workers.
The backbone of any functioning state is a government that people can trust. Gov. Hochul has proposed measures to help restore New Yorkers’ faith in their government, including instituting term limits for the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller. The Governor has also proposed banning earned outside income for elected officials and repealing and replacing the ineffective Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) with an ethics entity subject to Freedom of Information Law requests and the Open Meeting Laws.
During the 2022 legislative session, my Assembly colleagues and I will work hard to make progress on these common sense priorities which will help middle-class families and the community. If you have questions about this or any other community issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 716-634-1895 or McMahonK@nyassembly.gov.