ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Gov. Kathy Hochul delivered her first State of the State address as elected governor from the Assembly Chamber in Albany on Tuesday. She talked about several priorities she plans to tackle this year, including gun violence, crime, mental health, equal access to housing, climate change, affordable health care, and high inflation.
After an opening prayer from Reverend W. Franklin Richardson of the historic Baptist Church in Mount Vernon and opening remarks from Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, Hochul took the podium. She noted the hardships that New Yorkers have faced throughout 2022, as well as the over 840 bills she passed and signed as governor.
Hochul mentioned that—with economists predicting a recession—income taxes will not be raised for New Yorkers in 2023. She then addressed gun violence and crime within the state.
Investments to curb gun violence
In the 2023 New York State of the State address, Hochul discussed the nationwide rise in crime and gun violence, and strategies and investments New York has taken to combat them. According to Hochul, stronger gun control measures and tougher prosecutions for gun trafficking cases helped keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
Bail reform laws need improvements
Despite the strong critique of New York’s bail reform in recent years, Gov. Kathy Hochul stood by it during her State of the State Address on Tuesday, though she said there was room for change.
$1B plan to expand mental health services across New York
Hochul announced major changes to the Empire State’s mental healthcare services ahead of her 2023 State of the State Address. These include expanding insurance coverage, adding more psychiatric beds, and expanding mental health services in schools.
Building 800,000 new homes over the next decade
Hochul also discussed the issue of equal access to housing among New Yorkers. “Over the last 10 years,” she said, “Our state has created 1.2 million jobs—but only 400,000 new homes.”
With that in mind, Hochul introduced the New York Housing Compact, a strategy meant to pull together many policy changes in order to build 800,000 new homes over the next decade.
EmPower Plus program to improve home heating
Along the topic of housing and building new homes, Hochul also announced the “EmPower Plus” program, which will aim to improve home heating.
Hochul said that energy prices this winter are 20% to 30% more expensive compared to 2022. To help with the high energy costs, the program aims to retrofit the homes of low-income families by adding insulation, upgrading appliances, and switching from fossil fuels to clean, electric heating systems.
Minimum wage should reflect inflation
Despite already taking actions towards increasing the minimum wage in New York, Governor Kathy Hochul says there are more steps New York can take to tackle the affordability crisis head-on.