On Wednesday, January 5th, Governor Kathy Hochul set New York’s 2022 legislative stage with her first State of the State address outlining her “A New Era for New York” agenda. The Governor delivered the address in the State Assembly chamber, a return to a tradition that had been broken by Governor Cuomo who, in a veiled affront to the legislature, typically delivered his address anywhere but the Capitol. Also, in contrast with Cuomo, the Governor struck a collaborative tone with the Legislature stating that her goal is to find common ground, share success, and restore people’s trust in state government. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie echoed the governor’s cooperative message vowing to work with her to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.
Governor Hochul, with an eye on her upcoming primary in June, generally played it safe. Her address did not raise any immediate red flags for the broader business community and highlighted the need to continue combatting COVID. She also outlined nine key components of her agenda: 1) rebuilding the State’s healthcare economy; 2) protecting public safety and taking strong action against gun violence; 3) investing in New York’s people; 4) investing in New York’s communities; 5) making New York’s housing system more affordable and equitable; 6) making New York a national leader in climate action and green jobs; 7) rebuilding New York’s teacher workforce and reimagining higher education; 8) advancing New York’s place as a national equity model; and 9) restoring New Yorkers’ faith in their government.
Some of the key initiatives the Governor mentioned in her State of the State include: a comprehensive plan to ensure all new building construction is zero-emission by 2027, tax relief for small businesses, $1 billion middle-class property tax rebate, a $25 billion five-year housing plan to create 100,00 affordable homes, a “Jails to Job” program to help formerly incarcerated individuals with education and opportunity, term limits for the four statewide offices, a new independent ethics agency to replace JCOPE, and numerous investments in new and ongoing infrastructure projects. The most notable projects include a new “Interborough Express”, directly connecting Brooklyn and Queens by rail utilizing an existing right-of-way, advancing Phase Two of the Second Avenue Subway, creating a “Commuter-First” Penn Station, and supporting congestion pricing in Manhattan.