Looking Ahead, Gov. Hochul tells New Yorkers, “You are not Going to Want to Miss What Happens Next”
By Yehudit Garmaise
Gov. Kathy Hochul, in her first State of the State Address, made clear that she sees great times ahead for New Yorkers.
“Let us seize this moment with great confidence and optimism,” Gov. Hochul said with a calm smile. “Let us create a legacy of accomplishment that will endure through the ages: A New Era for New York.”
While Gov. Hochul briefly mentioned that she was the first woman to stand in the Capitol to give this annual address, she said, “But, I didn't come here to make history. I came to make a difference.”
Since being sworn in at midnight on Aug. 24, 2021, Gov. Hochul has been busy. Since September, for instance, she said she signed more than 400 bills into law.
One of the first items on the governor’s agenda is to help New Yorkers financially by accelerating a $1.2 billion-dollar tax cut, providing a $1 billion middle-class property tax rebate to more than 2 million homeowners, and expanding access to affordable childcare to 100,000 more working families by investing $75 million in childcare worker wages.
The governor also plans to deliver “$100 million in much-needed relief to nearly 200,000 small businesses” statewide.
One “harsh reality,” however, that Gov. Hochul wants to correct, is the fact that 300,000 New Yorkers moved out of the state last year.
“To those who left temporarily because of the pandemic or who are trying to decide their next steps during these uncertain times, I have one message: ‘You do not want to miss what's going to happen next.’”
Gov. Hochul wants to retain and increase residents by “building a new New York worthy of your talents and ambitions,” she said.
To entice people and businesses, the governor said she is investing “millions of dollars to transform the downtowns of our cities into magnets for new jobs and new opportunities.”
She wants to increase “more shovel-ready sites for new manufacturers and warehouses, improvements in our freight infrastructure and investments in the technology that will power the jobs of the future. And we're going to make sure we have a workforce trained to step into these jobs.”
To do so, the governor said she will “reboot our Workforce Development Office,” so we can build stronger partnerships with employers so we increase programs that train for jobs that are actually in demand.”
A fun project that Gov. Hochul said that she wants to “keep rolling down the track,” is to create an easy connection between Brooklyn and Queens, by transforming “an old, unused, 14-mile-long right-of-way to create a new, Inter-Borough Express Rail Service.”
While Gov. Hochul was wise to keep her visions upbeat and forward-looking by barely mentioning COVID, she did say that the state must build up the state’s army of healthcare workers, whom she said are “bone-tired,” demoralized, and leaving the profession in droves.
To increase the state’s healthcare workforce by 20% in the next five years, the governor said that she will be investing $10 billion.
For instance, Gov. Hochul said that not just thank healthcare workers for their tireless service, but we must financially repay them “the debt we owe: starting with retention bonuses of up to $3,000 to our health and direct care workers,” she said. “We also will drive higher salaries throughout the healthcare workforce, so those doing G-d's work here on earth are no longer doing it for minimum wage.
Gov. Hochul also wants to “make it easier for doctors and nurses from other states to practice with their existing licenses in New York,” and increase the number of students medical institutions can train. She always wants to provide free tuition and stipends for healthcare students who commit to remaining in New York after graduation.
“During this winter surge,” the governor said, “our laser focus is on keeping our kids in school, businesses open and New Yorkers' lives as normal as possible.”
“This is not a moment of despair, but a moment of great possibility.”
Photo by: Flickr