Health care, climate change crux of Hochul’s 2022 plan – Saratogian

By Marina Villeneuve

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Wednesday’s State of the State address was Kathy Hochul’s first. She outlined a plan for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, new investments by the government in the health care sector, housing, and renewable energy, and presented her first State of the State address.

Hochul, the state’s first female governor, is proposing a $10 billion plan to grow the state’s health care workforce by 20% over the next five years, saying the pandemic worsened long-simmering staffing problems.

That includes more than $4 billion to support wages and bonuses for workers in health care — a sector now suffering from a high burnout rate — and $2 billion for improved health care infrastructure.

Hochul spoke to a small and distant audience in the Assembly chamber of the New York State Capitol, Albany. This was during the worst coronavirus outbreak since 2020’s spring.

“We will fight like hell, not for turf, not for credit, but for New Yorkers,”Hochul stated.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was absent, and was quarantined following a pair rapid tests that indicated he may have COVID-19.

As of Monday, more than 10400 patients with confirmed COVID-19 had been admitted to state hospitals. This is 69% more than the Monday before. Hochul, who became governor when Andrew Cuomo resigned in August, said her administration’s “laser focus”It is important to keep children in schools and businesses open.

The Democrat also announced initiatives, including a proposal for $1 billion in electric vehicle infrastructure over the next few years and up to $500million in offshore wind port infrastructure. This is to meet the requirements of a sweeping state law that requires 70% electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2030.

Hochul stated that such projects would power one-third New York City’s electricity with wind, sun, and hydropower.

She appealed to voters to approve a bond bill of now $4 billion for environmental projects, including mitigation of climate change.

She’s also proposing $2 billion for road and bridge repairs, with a focus on replacing structures vulnerable to flooding.

Hochul is seeking to accelerate a phase-in of $1.2Billion in tax cuts for the middle class, which began in 2018. This will help ease the economic pain caused by the pandemic. Hochul also wants $1 billion in property taxes rebates for more that two million people of middle- and low income.

Hochul proposed funding of nearly $1 billion for tax credits, seed financing and low interest loans for small businesses. She seeks to increase broadband subsidies and access through $1 billion in private and public investments.

And with New York’s eviction moratorium set to expire mid-January, Hochul wants to offer free legal assistance for upstate New Yorkers. Hochul stated that the state could help prevent homelessness by creating 100,000 affordable homes in urban areas and rural areas through a five year, $5 billion plan.

Hochul, who’s running for governor this year, has vowed to restore trust in state government.

She wants to replace the state’s ethics enforcement agency, which recently has tussled with Cuomo over millions of dollars he earned writing a book while in office. She also wants to limit the terms of certain state elected officials, such as the governor, to just two terms and to ban them from earning outside income.

Other initiatives including making the state’s tuition assistance program available to part-time students and a Jails to Jobs initiative to help incarcerated people get and keep employment.

She said that New York should address the rise in gun violence by increasing funding for community prevention programs, and gun-tracing efforts between neighboring states.

Hochul will release her one-year budget plan later in the month. The April deadline for the adoption of a state budget must be met by lawmakers.

Last year’s budget reached $212 billion, and the slowly rebounding state is collecting billions more in revenue than expected.

The Democratic-led Legislature and Hochul’s administration is also face pressing decisions on new legislative and congressional maps, the launch of pot sales and calls for increased pandemic aid for landlords and undocumented workers.

Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate Leader, said that lawmakers must address rising unemployment insurance costs and expand access to absentee voting. She also stated that they must fully fund prekindergarten in all states and universal childcare.

Other Democrats propose a future mandate for childhood COVID-19 vaccine, parole reform, a ban to landlords from refusing a lease renewal in most scenarios, and a law automatically clearing records of many people convicted of crimes.

Republicans pledged to fight rising spending, and blamed the shortages in health care staffing for vaccine mandates.

Sen. Mike Martucci, a Republican of Hudson Valley, said Hochul should repeal a bail reform law that’s helped cut jail populations. He also lamented the high population loss in upstate.

“We have to give people a reason to choose New York, rather than a dozen more reasons to leave,”He said.

New York Governor. Kathy Hochul gives her first State of the State speech in the Assembly Chamber at the Capitol, Wednesday, January 5, 2022, Albany, N.Y.
New York Governor. Kathy Hochul gives her first State of the State speech in the Assembly Chamber at the Capitol, Wednesday, January 5, 2022, Albany, N.Y.
New York State Police protect the Capitol where Gov. Kathy Hochul will deliver the State of the State address Wednesday, January 5, 2022 in Albany (AP Photo/Hans Pennink).
New York Freedom rally is attended by protestors against the New York Governor’s mandate to ban vaccines and masks. Kathy Hochul gives her State of the State speech at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., Wednesday, January 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink).
Demonstrators demonstrate at the New York Freedom rally to protest New York Gov.’s mandates regarding vaccines and masks. Kathy Hochul gives her State of the State speech at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., Wednesday, January 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink).

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