On January 5, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul gave her first-ever State of the State Address.
The 2022 State of the State Address offers good news and bad news to Christian New Yorkers. The good news is that Gov. Hochul generally avoided controversial or objectionable public policies. The bad news is that the Governor offered few meaningful solutions to New York’s problems.
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Hochul bemoaned the dearth of health care workers in the state of New York. Strangely, the Governor seems to have forgotten that she drove health care workers out of the workforce with her onerous COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which does not allow religious exemptions. The Governor also showed no signs of retreating from the top-down, mandate-heavy approach she has used with regard to vaccinations and masks. On a positive note, Gov. Hochul advocated for retention bonuses for health care and direct care workers. The Governor also proposed to relax restrictions on allowing out-of-state physicians and nurses to practice in New York under their existing licenses, and to train more students for health care-related jobs.
Regarding education, Gov. Hochul made vague statements about recruiting and retraining more teachers. She also proposed to send more mental health professionals into schools.
Gov. Hochul offered an accelerated tax cut to New York’s families, along with a $1 billion middle-class property tax rebate. The Governor also proposes to increase access to childcare, spending $75 million on wages for childcare workers.
The Governor’s economic development plans include $100 million in small business tax relief, a tax credit for COVID-related purchases such as outdoor seating and heaters, and allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages “to go.” Gov. Hochul proposed a series of tax credits for farmers and various investments into downtown areas.
Gov. Hochul also proposed to focus on faculty recruitment and increasing enrollment at SUNY schools, and to make SUNY “a national leader on equity.” The Governor announced a new “Jails to Jobs” initiative, as well as the restoration of the Tuition Assistance Program for prison inmates (whom the Governor referred to as “incarcerated persons”).
Gov. Hochul laid out a series of infrastructure plans and $500 million of expenditures on offshore wind energy. The Governor wishes to make new construction “zero-emission” by the year 2027.
Gov. Hochul acknowledged New York’s rising crime, but offered little in the way of solutions. The Governor proposes to help law enforcement agencies collaborate more effectively, to spend more money on gun tracing and community-based programs.
The Governor’s response to homelessness involves creating teams of social workers and mental health professionals to work with homeless people and help them find housing. The Governor announced a new plan to create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes over the next five years; she also proposed to change housing laws that constrict the supply of housing.
The most promising part of the Governor’s speech had to do with clean government. Significantly, Gov. Hochul announced that she will propose a constitutional amendment to limit statewide elected officials to two terms in office. In response to the scandal surrounding former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book project, the Governor also wishes to ban outside income for statewide elected officials. Finally, the Governor proposed to replace New York’s problematic Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) with a new ethics agency. The Governor’s term limits and JCOPE proposals are promising.