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Hochul delivers her first State of the State; pledges to restore the public's trust

Jan 06, 2022 5:45 am

Brendan J. Lyons is reporting for the Times Union Gov. Kathy Hochul delivered her first State of the State address January 5, pledging to restore the public's trust in government through term limits and ethics reforms, and by implementing a sweeping agenda to combat gun violence, improve the health care industry, expand educational opportunities, take further steps on the climate crisis and prop up the agricultural industry. "What I am proposing is a whole new era for New York," Hochul said in the Assembly chamber. "The days of governors disregarding the rightful role of this legislature are over. The days of the governor of New York and mayor of New York City wasting time on petty rivalries are over. The days of New Yorkers questioning whether their government is actually working for them are over." The speech was delivered in the Assembly chamber before a small audience; Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie announced shortly before the speech that he would not attend due to a positive COVID-19 test. The governor called for the passage of the "Clean Slate Act," which would seal certain felony records after a specific amount of years; she promised to "jump-start" the state's ailing economy and transform New York into the most "business-friendly and worker-friendly" state in the nation. A major focus is on tracing and removing illicit guns from streets, while also spending more money toward stemming gun violence with a community-based response. Hochul is also looking to increase support systems for people experiencing homelessness, addiction and mental health challenges and to support the increase of affordable housing. Hochul’s speech also addressed sustainability by pledging to electrify 50,000 homes, by replacing gas, oil and propane-powered appliances with electric. She also pledged to grow the health care workforce by 20 percent over the next five years, sketched out plans to increase enrollment by one-third at state universities and called for tax cuts for the middle class. She pledged to fund small businesses and restaurants, provide up to a $500 million investment in offshore wind, which could create 2,000 "good-paying green jobs," and to offer certain tax credits for farmers, and more. The speech was embraced by Democratic lawmakers, including Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, the longest serving member in the Legislature who is set to retire at the end of his term. Out of 52 State of the State addresses he has attended, Gottfried said this was "the best of them all." Read more in the Times Union.

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