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Policy Resource: 2024 State of the State Brief

As the voice of business for over 1,300 members in the Greater Rochester region, Greater Rochester Chamber works to shape policies and keep members informed on legislation and proposed legislation that will impact their organizations. We work directly with lawmakers to advocate strongly for an environment that promotes the success of our members and of our economy. Each year, our Governor’s State of the State address provides a strategic overview of her priorities for the session ahead and creates important conversations and shapes decisions at the state and local levels.

To keep our members informed on information relevant to the Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes region, Chief of Staff Marc Cohen drafted the below brief to summarize the presentation into what you need to know:

Summary: Governor Hochul offered her third State of the State Address on January 9, 2024, in the NYS Assembly Chamber, and included 204 proposals on a variety of topics. This brief will focus only on those proposals directly relevant to Upstate and the Finger Lakes Region including: (1) public safety; (2) healthcare; (3) economic development; (4) workforce and education; (5) extreme weather infrastructure; and (6) equity and social services.

Public Safety: Governor Hochul highlighted public safety issues being faced by communities across New York. She announced proposals to: (1) expand the list of offenses eligible for prosecution as a hate crime; (2) combat the unlicensed sale of cannabis; (3) crack down on property crime and retail theft by establishing the NYS Police Smash and Grab Unit and provide additional funding for DA’s offices to focus on property crime; (4) establish the Commercial Security Tax Credit to help small businesses offset the cost of implementing security measures; (5) further combat gun violence; and (6) invest in strategies to help successfully prosecute domestic violence cases and deter future violence among high risk offenders.

Healthcare: Governor Hochul offered several healthcare related proposals including: (1) expanded coverage for health-related social needs for Medicaid beneficiaries like housing supports, food and nutrition, and transportation to connect individuals with social services; (2) combatting opioid overdoses through additional community behavioral health centers and updating NY’s controlled substances schedule to include new fentanyl analogs and xylazine; (3) additional support for safety-net hospitals; (4) strengthening hospital cyber security; (5) increasing Medicaid rates for providers participating in the State’s innovative primary care model; (6) increasing aid to practices treating mental health conditions and several initiatives around expanding mental health care; (7) advancing the State’s efforts to end preventable epidemics; (8) efforts to improve equity and outcomes for maternal and infant health; (9) eliminating insurance co-pays for insulin; and (10) limiting hospitals’ ability to sue patients earning less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, expanding hospital financial assistance programs for low-income New Yorkers, and limiting the size of monthly payments and interest charged for medical debt.

Economic Development: Governor Hochul announced the following actions related to economic development, consumers, and worker benefits: (1) $100 Million in additional funding for Focused Attraction of Shovel-Ready Tracts New York (FAST-NY) program; (2) creating a Small Business Environmental Support Office to assist small businesses in better navigating existing environmental regulations and take advantage of available resources; (3) a plan to expand New York’s consumer protection law by proposing legislation around unfair and abusive business practices; (4) investing in another round of Restore NY; (5) $50 million in new capital funding for the New York State Council on the Arts to offer grants for projects of all sizes; (6) proposing legislation that would require Buy Now Pay Later providers to get a license to operate in the state and would authorize the NYS Department of Financial Services to propose and issue regulations for this industry; and (7) increase the maximum benefit for paid medical and disability leave over the next five years and tie it to the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (once fully phased in, for the first 12 weeks of medical leave, eligible employees would receive 67% of their average weekly wage, capped at 67% of the SAWW).

Workforce and Education: Among the top issues faced by businesses is access to qualified, high-quality talent. Governor Hochul announced the following workforce and education measures: (1) the creation of One Network for Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships (ON-RAMP) – a network of four new workforce development centers throughout Upstate NY – that will offer credentials and training related to advanced manufacturing with a focus on providing opportunities for disadvantaged populations; (2) establishing the Office of Workforce Data and Research to monitor, measure, and comprehensively connect data from educational institutions, employers, and workforce development programs; (3) expanding apprenticeships; (4) expanding the Teacher Ambassador Program to prepare teachers, certified work-based learning coordinators, and school counselors to develop career-readiness strategies for students; (5) creating opportunities for immigrant entrepreneurs to obtain university-sponsored visas and establishing a virtual Immigrant Entrepreneur Center to serve as a hub for information for immigrant entrepreneurs on grants, technical assistance, and various professional consultations; (6) expanding support for New Yorkers with disabilities through increasing integration, employment, and independent living opportunities; (6) measures against wage theft including granting levy powers to the NYS Department of Labor; (7) publishing a Youth Workers Bill of Rights; (8) proposing a plan to offer direct admission to SUNY campuses for high achieving students from the top 10% of NY high school classes; (9) mandating school districts to require all high school seniors to complete the FAFSA; and (10) extensive plans to improve reading proficiency including investment in teacher training;

Extreme Weather Infrastructure: Relevant to our region, Governor Hochul outlined a resiliency plan to protect against extreme weather including: (1) a fund to support resiliency efforts for low-and-moderate income homeowners ahead of future storms; (2) adopting the International Building Code’s 2024 update which includes higher standards for resistance to wind, snow, and temperature extremes; (3) providing municipalities with additional generators, high-flow pumps, and flood barrier technology; (4) updating coastal erosion hazard area maps; and (5) plans to ensure vulnerable New Yorkers have access to air conditioning.

Equity and Social Services: Nine of the top ten New York State zip codes with the highest child poverty rates are in Upstate. Governor Hochul proposed a $50 million investment to support selected anti-poverty initiatives in Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse. Governor Hochul also announced New York will opt in to $200 million in federal funding for nutrition assistance from the USDA’s Summer EBT program and engage in outreach efforts to ensure eligible students on SUNY and CUNY campuses take advantage of SNAP benefits. Governor Hochul also proposed strengthening services for LGBTQ+ and TGNCNB New Yorkers, as well as for New York’s veterans.

For any questions or for a deeper dive into any of the above matters or others included in the State of the State but not listed here, please contact Chief of Staff Marc Cohen at


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