Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her first State of the State address Wednesday.
Hochul is proposing a $10 billion plan to grow the state’s health care workforce by 20% over the next five years, saying the pandemic worsened long-simmering staffing problems.
That includes more than $4 billion to support wages and bonuses for workers in health care and $2 billion for improved health care infrastructure.
Hochul spoke before a limited, socially distant audience in the Assembly chamber at the New York State Capitol in Albany amid the worst surge in coronavirus infections since the virus first hit the state in the spring of 2020.
She also announced initiatives including a proposal to invest $1 billion in electric vehicle infrastructure in coming years and up to $500 million in offshore wind port infrastructure to meet the requirements of a sweeping state law calling for 70% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Hochul urged voters this November to approve a now-$4 billion bond act funding environmental projects, including climate change mitigation.
She’s also proposing $2 billion for road and bridge repairs, with a focus on replacing structures vulnerable to flooding.
To help ease the economic pain of the pandemic, Hochul wants to speed up a planned phase-in of $1.2 billion in middle class tax cuts that began in 2018. She also wants $1 billion in property tax rebates for more than two million middle-and low-income individuals.
Hochul proposed nearly $1 billion in funding for tax credits, seed funding and reduced interest rate loans for small businesses. She wants to boost broadband subsidies and access by drawing on $1 billion in public and private investments.
And with New York’s eviction moratorium set to expire mid-January, Hochul wants to offer free legal assistance for upstate New Yorkers. She said the state could help stave off homelessness through a five-year, $5 billion plan to build 100,000 affordable homes in urban and rural areas.
Hochul has vowed to restore trust in state government. She wants to replace JCOPE, the state’s ethics enforcement agency, with a rotating board of five members made up of 15 state-accredited law school deans or their designees. She also wants to limit certain statewide elected officials, including the governor, to two terms and put a ban on them earning outside income.
Other initiatives including making the state’s tuition assistance program available to part-time students and a Jails to Jobs initiative to help incarcerated people get and keep employment.
She said New York should address the uptick in gun violence by boosting funding for community prevention programs and gun-tracing efforts with neighboring states.