New York Capital Brief:

Hochul Delivers State of the State Address

On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Hochul delivered her State of the State Address and released a 276-page briefing book outlining her goals for the 2023 legislative session. The speech was delivered in the Assembly Chamber to a crowd of legislators, statewide and local elected officials, staffers, and select guests and family members.  Also in attendance were the Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and State Comptroller.

Major Takeaways:

  • Re-addressing the bail reform law to give judges greater discretion when setting bail, and other public safety investments;
  • $1B investment to close the gaps in behavioral health care;
  • A “New York Housing Compact” to expand affordable housing options and availability;
  • Investments in job creation;
  • Aggressive climate change policies;
  • Making childcare more affordable, accessible, and fair; and
  • Indexing minimum wage and automatically increasing the wage to keep pace with inflation.

Governor Hochul made additional proposals around gun safety, ethics reform, and landlord tax breaks. She also reiterated her commitment to protecting the right to reproductive health services, and to not raise income taxes this year.


Opposition to Chief Judge Nomination

Shortly after, Governor Hochul announced her nomination of State Supreme Court Justice Hector LaSalle to be Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, several legislators, special interest groups and labor organizations issued statements calling on Governor Hochul to repeal her nomination, claiming that “Justice LaSalle’s deeply conservative judicial record includes decisions that are anti-abortion, anti-union, and anti-due process.”

Despite the opposition, Hochul defended LaSalle’s record at a press briefing last Friday, saying she “never wanted to have a political litmus test” as part of the selection process.  The Governor reiterated that she will continue to back LaSalle to lead New York’s highest court, stating “we will allow process to continue”.

However, a resolution approved along party lines last Wednesday expanded the Senate Judiciary Committee from 15 to 19 members – adding three Democrats and one Republican to the committee – ultimately “stacking” the committee with enough Democratic members to block the Governor’s nomination.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that its hearing on the Chief Judge nomination will take place on Wednesday, January 18th, 2023 at 10:00 AM in the Legislative Office Building.


Governor Priority: Mental Health Reform

During her State of the State Address, Governor Hochul unveiled her one billion-dollar plan to improve the State’s approach to mental health in the wake of the pandemic and its continued effects on public safety, behavioral health, and children’s school performance.

The Governor announced that she will direct State-licensed hospitals to reopen more than 800 inpatient psychiatric beds that were eliminated during the pandemic; create 3,500 housing units with supportive services; expand mental health services in schools, and improve community-based care.

“We have underinvested in mental health care for so long, and allowed the situation to become so dire, that it has become a public safety crisis as well,” said Governor Hochul. “This proposal marks a monumental shift to make sure no one falls through the cracks and to finally and fully meet the mental health needs of all New Yorkers.”