Assemblymember Cahill Comments on the State of the State Address

Albany, NY Today we heard Governor Kathy Hochul’s first State of the State address establishing her vision for New York as we begin the 2022 Legislative Session. In a welcome return to tradition, Governor Hochul addressed the Legislature in its own chamber for the first time in over a decade. Appropriately, the foremost priority of the Governor is mitigating the impact of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant schools reopen for the second half of the academic year. She also emphasized the importance of ensuring the timely passage of a fiscally sound budget that meets the needs of struggling New Yorkers.

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Hochul highlighted inequities this catastrophe laid bare, including the condition of our healthcare system, the fragile living situations many families face and even access to the Internet. She also proposed significant funding to address these issues. Additionally, the Governor committed the resources of the state to provide more affordable housing units for families weighed down by soaring rent and those at risk of homelessness and displacement.

Among her primary health objectives this year are providing needed relief to our overburdened medical system, including rationalizing telehealth insurance reimbursements, bolstering access to basic coverage for more New Yorkers and expanding the healthcare workforce. I look forward to working with Governor Hochul to modernize health services in our state and commend her for also recognizing the need to incorporate mental health in the field of pediatrics.

It was also refreshing to hear the Governor enunciate a clear agenda of reform. Calling for a replacement of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, term limits for statewide elected officials, uniformity in local government ethics procedures and a renewed pledge to put voting rights amendments back before the voters is a good start in restoring public confidence in elected state leaders.

While the governor acknowledged that climate change is an existential threat, this speech lacked specific directive on what the state intends to do about a reduction of our dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate more frequent and severe flooding. I am confident, however, that the fiscal plan proposed by the governor after negotiation with the legislature will include important measures required to mitigate the effects of climate change. I will be advocating for the inclusion of two measures I sponsor: to end fossil fuel tax breaks and to begin to change carbon emitters for the destructive carbon they are putting into our atmosphere.

All indications are that Governor Hochul is interested in serious collaboration with the Legislature and the expertise we provide in bringing much-needed reforms to the communities we serve. Further evidence of the Governor’s commitments to these initiatives will be seen through allocations in the Executive Budget to be released in the coming weeks. It is typical for governors to leave the specifics out of their State of the State address, saving details for the Executive Budget Proposal. Along with my colleagues, I will examine supplemental materials when Governor Hochul provides them and look forward to the fiscal plan, when that is presented. All in all, however, Governor Kathy Hochul offered a breath of fresh air and a promising new beginning for our great state.