Governor’s State of the State Address

Governor Hochul gave her State of the State address today, highlighting achievements of the past year and identifying high-priority initiatives.

– Over the course of the year, Governor Hochul signed 840 items into law. She stated that the laws focused on her highest priorities, which are strengthening gun safety, ensuring that reproductive healthcare continues as a human right, and ensuring that the state is fiscally solvent.

– Governor Hochul expressed that her highest priority was the safety of all New Yorkers. She congratulated the attorney general for her enforcement of the Red Flag law. Last year there were over 5,000 extreme risk protection orders. The governor reviewed additional acts such as raising the age to 21 to buy semi-automatic guns and increasing programs to take guns off the streets.
– The governor also addressed bail reform, acknowledging that she will use the budget process to propose reforms. The initial goal of bail reform was to ensure that the economic status of any person did not determine whether they stayed out of jail. She stated, however, that New Yorkers have been clear on the need for increased public safety and she will seek reforms on bail reform.

-The governor talked about the critical need to change the approach to mental health. She will designate $1 billion to meet the mental health needs of New Yorkers. Proposals will include increasing psychiatric beds and increasing living situations for homeless persons with mental health needs. She will invest in services of reintegration and supportive housing.

Governor’s Education Priorities

– Fulfill commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid by investing $2.7 billion. This is an anticipated 13% increase.

-Add $125 million to prekindergarten, which would add approximately 17,500 seats for four-year-olds.

-Dedicate $250 million of Foundation Aid to high-impact tutoring programs.

-Establish a $20 million grant program for new, early college high school and P-Tech programs.

-Establish $10 million over two years (competitive funding) to school districts, BOCES, and community colleges to develop workforce plans to promote job readiness.
– The governor also addressed the mental health of children, and schools’ ability to meet those needs. She stated that far too many schools cannot provide mental health services and she will make providing preventative supports a priority.

Additional Proposals

– Increase access to childcare by streamlining the process to enroll and apply.

– Raise minimum wages annually and index inflation.

– Provide relief to more than 800,000 utility customers.

– Cap and invest in programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

SAANYS is pleased to see the educational priorities addressed in the governor’s State of the State. Commented SAANYS Executive Director Kevin Casey, “SAANYS appreciates the governor’s continued commitment to fully phase in Foundation Aid. In the current economic climate, school administrators continue to be concerned with the rising cost of all services. We are pleased to see a continued expansion of prekindergarten, as well as a corresponding expanded increase to childcare and a focus on mental health. SAANYS concurs that the needs of young students and families have been dramatically impacted by the pandemic and associated economic issues and the efforts to provide multi-level support to our young people are applauded and necessary.”