Governor Hochul’s 2022 State of the State Address
By Marc Cohen, Chief of Staff/Policy Director
New York Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her first State of the State address last Wednesday, outlining an agenda for an economic comeback from the coronavirus pandemic and new government investments in the health care industry, housing and renewable energy.
Governor Hochul covered the following topics directly relevant to Upstate and the Finger Lakes Region: (1) rebuilding and growing the state’s healthcare economy, (2) public safety, (3) workforce development and education, (4) economic development, (5) infrastructure, and (6) equity and reform. The following brief is intended to be a high-level view of the Governor’s agenda for the coming year.
Governor Hochul announced a plan to grow the healthcare workforce by 20% over the next five years. As of June 2021, New York’s healthcare workforce was still 3% below pre-pandemic levels, and 11% below where it would need to be by the end of 2022 to keep up with pre-pandemic projected demand. Her plan calls for a $10 billion investment to support higher wages, bonuses, and investments in care. The plan also includes funds for increasing training capacity at medical institutions, financial support for the education of healthcare professionals including tuition assistance, and childcare/transportation assistance for those being trained. The plan calls for recruiting medical professionals to work in underserved areas by providing loan assistance to doctors who work in underserved areas for three years and recruiting/training of diverse healthcare workers. The Governor also outlined plans to: allow doctors and nurses to easily relocate to/practice in NY, advance health equity, and support New Yorkers with improved addiction and mental health services.
Governor Hochul outlined the ongoing violence problem in New York and announced her intent to allocate funding to combat it. Her plan involves tripling resources for the State Police crime gun tracing efforts, supporting local law enforcement through additional funding, utilizing social media analysis to identify threats and criminal activity, and stopping cryptocurrency crimes with new software. Through community-based programs and local investment, Governor Hochul plans to address and reduce instances of gun violence.
Workforce Development and Education
With New York’s unemployment at 6.6% and a job deficit that is three times greater than the national average, Governor Hochul announced a series of workforce development initiatives. Through Empire State Development (ESD), New York will create a new office of Workforce and Economic Development to address workforce shortages and challenges. Each Regional Economic Development Countil will help determine workforce development funding on a real-time, continual basis (as opposed to an annual funding cycle) to generate a pipeline of new workers for regionally-significant industries. With 70% of new jobs requiring some post-secondary credential and roughly 2.4 million New Yorkers between ages 25 and 44 lacking a post-secondary degree or credential, Governor Hochul announced a series of measures to respond to the workforce needs: 1) Expand part-time Tuition Assistance Programs, 2) Provide financial support for non-degree workforce training at CUNY and SUNY, 3) Develop public-private funding partnerships to create new internship opportunities for SUNY and CUNY students, 4) Establish a policy that would enable work experiences to count toward degree credits, 5) Incentivize concurrent enrollment programs around credit achievement and matriculation; 6) provide childcare at all SUNY/CUNY campuses; and 7) award prior learning credit across SUNY/CUNY. The Governor also included plans to expand access to apprenticeships, improve work opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and support reentry to reduce recidivism. On the k-12 front, the Governor spoke extensively on the need for more teachers and proposed accelerating the teacher certification process as well as eliminating other barriers to that workforce.
In 2020, New York’s GDP was $1.7 trillion making it one of the largest economies in the world. With 71% of small businesses reporting continued adverse impact from the pandemic and individuals continuing to struggle financially, the Governor outlined several measures to help. Among them: 1) A small business COVID capital investment tax credit to small businesses that took on COVID-related capital expenses, including retrofits, renovations, machinery, and equipment related to COVID safety enhancements; 2) permanently legalizing the sale of to-go drinks for bars and restaurants; 3) flexible grants to early-stage small businesses to help those that recently opened succeed in the wake of COVID19; 4) a small business lending initiative that will provide reduced interest rates and accessible loans to expanding small businesses; and 5) assistance to small businesses to increase their chances of being awarded federally funded contracts related to the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Governor also announced a 6th round of the Downtown Revitlization Initiative, funding for increasing the number of shovel-ready sites around New York, increased funding for the arts, and the expansion of broadband access.
Relevant to our region, Governor Hochul outlined several investments in Finger Lakes regional infrastructure. She mentioned the benefits of the new Inner Loop North raising project and advancing ROC the Riverway Phase 2 that will include Rochester High Falls State Park, Rochester Riverside expansion, High Falls Visitor Center, Aqueduct Reimagined (including the new money announced to begin construction as part of Constellation Brands HQ relocation), and the Rochester Downtown Partnership (a management entity for public waterfront spaces). The Governor spoke extensively about accelerating the renewable energy economy and protecting climate health. Investing $500 million in offshore wind energy, making New York a green hydrogen hub, promoting wind and solar, expanding electric vehicle infrastructure, and the extended producer responsibility (recycling) are among the initiatives included.
Equity and Reform
The Governor put great emphasis on looking at each issue through a lens of equity and inclusion. Efforts include expanding the MWBE infrastructure to reduce the time it takes to get certified, promoting equity and economic justice in New York’s cannabis industry, and promoting anti-hate. She also emphasized restoring the public’s trust in government by enacting a two-term limit for state-wide elected officials, banning outside income for state-wide elected officials, replacing JCOPE, requiring polling locations on college campuses, and lowering the voter registration deadline to 10 days before the election.
For questions, comments, or to get involved with Greater Rochester Chamber policy and advocacy, email Marc at Marc.Cohen@GreaterRochesterChamber.com.