Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday used her second State of the State deal with to unveil a wide-ranging agenda for 2023, vowing to tie New York’s minimal wage to the charge of inflation, create a whole lot of 1000’s of new housing items and push for additional adjustments to the state’s oft-debated bail legal guidelines.
Hochul, a Democrat, started addressing the state Legislature at 1 p.m. from the ornate Meeting chamber in the Capitol in Albany. However she laid out dozens of proposals for the coming yr in a 277-page coverage e book delivered to lawmakers earlier in the day.
Amongst these proposals is a plan to overtake the state’s present system for growing the minimal wage, taking it out of lawmakers’ arms. As a substitute, the wage — at present $15 in New York Metropolis, Westchester County and Lengthy Island — would routinely enhance to match year-over-year adjustments in the worth of shopper items.
Hochul’s public security plan, in the meantime, requires a brand new spherical of adjustments to the state’s bail system, which is probably going to attract opposition from progressive Democrats in the Legislature who proceed to face behind the 2019 reforms which have drawn intensive criticism from New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams and others.
She additionally laid out a $1 billion plan to bolster the state’s psychological well being system, partially by reopening more than 800 inpatient psychiatric beds and creating more supportive housing items.
Listed here are 5 takeaways from Hochul’s State of the State plan, as specified by the e book delivered to lawmakers:
1. Automated minimal wage will increase
If Hochul has her approach, New York’s minimal wage would not be topic to the whims of governors and state lawmakers.
Hochul’s proposal would hyperlink the wage to the Client Value Index for the Northeast area. If the index goes up 3% from one yr to the subsequent, so would the minimal wage.
That’s a giant change from how issues are at present carried out, with lawmakers setting the wage in state legislation. The final time it was modified was 2016, when then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers authorized a three-tiered, multiyear enhance that noticed the hourly charge rise to its present $15 in New York Metropolis, Lengthy Island and Westchester County.
In the relaxation of the state, the minimal wage is at present $14.20 an hour, with the state Finances Division capable of unilaterally enhance it in future years till it hits $15.
Some Democrats have already urged they assist growing the minimal wage, however that was earlier than Hochul unveiled her indexing proposal.
“We cannot afford for wages to remain stagnant,” Meeting Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) mentioned Monday throughout a speech on his chamber’s ground. “As we look to the future, we will continue to monitor wages and ensure they keep pace with the cost of living.”
2. Modifications to NY’s bail legal guidelines (once more)
Final yr, the New York governor’s race was painted largely by questions over public security, thanks in no small half to Republican Lee Zeldin making it the central theme of his marketing campaign.
On Tuesday, Hochul made it a significant theme of her State of the State proposals.
Particularly, the governor desires to make one other spherical of adjustments to the state’s bail legal guidelines, which forestall judges from imposing bail on a defendant earlier than trial in most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony instances.
In instances that stay eligible for bail, Hochul says she desires to take away a clause that also requires judges to implement the “least restrictive” measures to make sure a defendant returns to courtroom. That clause, she says, has led to confusion amongst judges who’ve launched defendants that they in any other case might have been capable of preserve jailed earlier than trial.
“This results in finger-pointing and confusion when defendants commit additional crimes of violence,” Hochul’s State of the State coverage e book reads.
Hochul says she would preserve the “least restrictive” clause for instances that aren’t eligible for bail.
3. Housing plan requires municipal objectives, 421-a substitute
With New York going through a housing disaster, Hochul had beforehand pledged to create 800,000 new items over the subsequent decade. On Tuesday, she detailed how she plans to do it.
Amongst different issues, Hochul intends to create a “New York Housing Compact.” As half of it, each city, metropolis and village in the state would obtain a goal quantity of new properties to create over a three-year interval — 3% for these inside the MTA service space, and 1% for these exterior it.
If a municipality doesn’t meet its objective, the state would step in to fast-track the approval course of for sure multifamily developments, offered they meet sure standards, together with a minimal quantity of inexpensive items.
Hochul’s housing plan additionally depends on some main assumptions. For one, it requires a substitute of the expired tax incentive often known as 421-a, which offered vital property tax breaks to New York Metropolis builders who construct housing with a sure proportion of inexpensive items. A quantity of Democratic lawmakers allowed the program to run out final yr, likening it to a handout to builders.
It additionally assumes about 400,000 items will come from “organic” development — that means they’re items that might have probably been constructed regardless of authorities motion.
4. Assist for the MTA, however no particulars on income
Hochul’s State of the State e book pledges to “secure the MTA’s future,” as the transit authority faces a $600 million price range shortfall brought about largely by ridership ranges that haven’t recovered from the pandemic.
However precisely how the governor will do that is still to be seen.
Hochul’s e book acknowledged the want for a brand new income stream for the MTA that isn’t so reliant on fares. She didn’t, nevertheless, present specifics, suggesting that they could come when she lays out her state price range proposal later this month.
“Gov. Hochul is committed to working with MTA leadership, legislative partners, the city of New York, the federal government, and other critical stakeholders on a comprehensive set of solutions to the structural challenges facing the MTA in order to put the Authority on sound fiscal footing for many years to come,” the e book reads.
Hochul did, nevertheless, embrace different transit-related proposals. Amongst them was permitting New York Metropolis to decrease its pace limits.
The pitch — specified by the governor’s State of the State speech — would alter present state legislation that stops the metropolis Division of Transportation from setting pace limits beneath 25 mph in most of the metropolis, and 15 mph in class zones
The proposal is much like laws dubbed “Sammy’s Law” launched in 2020 by state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) in 2020, which might allow the metropolis to decrease its pace limits.
5. Measures to guard entry to abortion, contraception
Hochul has made abortion and contraception entry a significant precedence in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Courtroom’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade.
On Tuesday, Hochul unveiled her newest proposals associated to reproductive well being.
The governor would enable pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception, basically permitting for over-the-counter entry.
She additionally pledged to extend Medicaid reimbursement charges for reproductive well being suppliers, and effectively as bolster entry to medicine abortions on SUNY and CUNY campuses throughout the state.
Contains reporting by Clayton Guse.