Praise and concern among reactions to Hochul’s State of the State

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 January 2023 at 4:23 pm

Gov. Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State speech this afternoon is being lauded for lofty goals, especially with proposals to expand mental health services, add housing throughout the state and combat crime. However, some legislators and organizations are concerned Hochul’s proposals may just be “rhetoric” and could lead to rising costs to live and do business in New York.

Here are some of the reactions:

New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher: “Gov. Hochul’s State of the State recognizes some of the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture, and her proposals to expand markets and tax credits are much appreciated.

“This includes a plan to make the investment tax credit refundable and increase state procurement of New York farm products. We also support efforts to expand urban agriculture in the state and shore up our workforce through job training and increased manufacturing. “However, labor costs continue to rise, putting increased pressure on our farms’ sustainability. New York Farm Bureau is concerned that a plan to boost the minimum wage will exacerbate that problem and further push up inflationary costs.

“Our farms depend on a strong economy, investment in critical agricultural programs, and reasonable regulations. New York Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the governor to build on today’s agenda and improve our agricultural and food system that benefits all New Yorkers.”

New York State Association of Counties President Michael E. Zurlo: “From strengthening public safety and mental health services, to increasing affordable housing and reversing decades of population loss, Governor Hochul’s State of the State address laid out an ambitious agenda to address issues that are of paramount importance to New York’s counties and the residents we serve.

“Counties are on the front lines of government, turning public policy into services that touch New Yorker’s lives. We look forward to working with Governor Hochul and the State Legislature in the coming months to turn the vision laid out today into effective solutions that will help New Yorkers afford to stay and raise their families in our communities, and live safer, healthier lives.”

State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt: “Today’s State of the State speech by Governor Hochul follows the Senate Republicans’ call for a safer, stronger and more affordable New York. While the Governor echoed our themes, she ignored the stark reality that one-party, progressive policies have made New York less safe and less affordable. New Yorkers deserve action that matches the rhetoric.

“On issues like bail reform, mental health, housing and affordability, we hope the Governor will deliver real solutions for New Yorkers and ignore the hysterics from the progressive left.

“Unfortunately, the Governor’s speech included policies that will make life more difficult for struggling families and small businesses. Touting unachievable energy policies, new mandates on small business and state-driven housing policies will only drive up costs for overburdened New Yorkers, chasing out even more taxpayers and more jobs.

“As we continue to examine the full details of her proposals, my Senate Republican colleagues and I are ready to take action on common-sense policies that make New York safer, stronger, more affordable and more free.”

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy: “Governor Hochul just set out a vision that aims to make Rochester, the Finger Lakes, and all of New York State better, stronger, and safer.

“Among her efforts that we will actively support is the much-needed proposal to return authority to judges by eliminating the ‘least restrictive’ standard when it comes to serious crimes, increasing aid for and access to mental health treatment, and her efforts around reducing violence in our communities. Rochester and other communities throughout our state have been ravaged by crime and violence, and today the Governor offered commonsense steps that will result in improved public safety.

“Additionally, we are committed to helping the Governor in her efforts to ensure that our healthcare systems and nursing homes have the support they need to continue providing top quality care for patients like resolving antiquated rates, preventing extortionate wage demands, and alleviating crippling mandates.

“On making it more tenable to do business in New York State, we look forward to continuing our partnership with Governor Hochul and her administration to lessen the labyrinth of red tape and bureaucracy small businesses face. We should be making it less burdensome to start and grow a business, and we are committed to doing everything possible to retain, attract, and expand businesses in Greater Rochester.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R,C-Batavia: “Speaking about issues is certainly different from acting on them. If Gov. Hochul wants change in New York, she will have to offer proposals that don’t just benefit her political base.

“It is my sincere hope she will work with us to fix their disastrous bail ‘reform’, resume the elimination of state sales tax on gasoline, and to pass our inflation relief bill that would slash taxes on home heating fuel and groceries.”

“Public safety and affordability of basic items are issues that affect New Yorkers daily. This year, I look forward to seeing whether Gov. Hochul takes strides to work with us in a bipartisan manner for the betterment of all New Yorkers.”

Assemblyman Mike Norris, R,C-Lockport: “New York’s population loss is a reality and it’s because of high taxes, a high cost of living and diminished quality of life. It’s great that the governor is finally listening to this message – for it’s been going on for far too long, especially in Western New York and rural communities across our state.

“However, more focus on real fiscal responsibility, protecting our community from criminals, and making long term commitments to rebuilding our basic infrastructure must be our focus. It’s time we get back to basics and focus on keeping New Yorkers here with their families.”

One Fair Wage’s President Saru Jayaraman: “We applaud Governor Hochul in her quest to index the $15 minimum wage in the Empire State to continue to rise with inflation, especially to support women and workers of color.

“But hundreds of thousands of tipped service workers in New York who are largely women and people of color have been excluded from the $15 wage and are fed up with low wages and poor working conditions on the restaurant industry. They must also be taken into consideration, particularly as the staffing crisis in New York continues.

“Unless wages go up statewide for tipped workers, thousands of workers will continue to organize and many more will continue to leave in droves. Governor Hochul, a former tipped worker herself, has called for ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers. She has the power to do so right now, and we call on her to take subminimum wage workers’ concerns seriously through a simple executive action. That’s the kind of leadership that New Yorkers need.”

New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Robert Schneider: “School boards are pleased to hear assurances from Gov. Kathy Hochul that public education will be an important part of her vision for a New York that provides a welcoming environment for families, individuals and employers.

“We thank the governor for her continued commitment to fully funding foundation aid, expanding full-day pre-kindergarten, and establishing new early college high school and P-TECH programs. All of these initiatives will greatly benefit our students.

“We look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to set up a plan for the future of foundation aid. This includes conducting a costing out study to determine the true cost of providing an adequate education for all of the students of New York State, updating the components of the foundation aid formula as needed, and providing minimum required aid increases for districts that would otherwise be left out by the current version of the formula.

“We are encouraged by the governor’s support of reforms to make the property tax cap fair for all stakeholders – a priority for school boards – and we await more details about the governor’s commitment to providing the necessary continuum of mental health care for New Yorkers, including students. Her emphasis on school-based supports for students is a welcome recognition that educators want and need tools to help our students overcome mental health challenges so they can thrive academically and socially.

“In addition, as the session unfolds, we look forward to working with the governor as we advocate for a universal school meals program to ensure that all students are offered a nutritious breakfast and lunch each day. Healthy school meals are an important building block of student success.

“Based on our review of the governor’s initiatives for this legislative session, we anticipate a promising session for our public schools.”