Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2024 State of the State Address

On Tuesday, January 9, 2024, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her third State of the State address from the Assembly chamber in the Capitol during a joint session of the Assembly and Senate. During the State of the State, the Governor focused on a goal of making New York a more affordable place to live. The State of the State contained numerous policy proposals, and the Governor also made clear that the economic outlook for 2024 is far less rosy than it was in 2023. Nonetheless, the Governor announced that she will not be proposing or supporting an increase in personal income taxes.

The Governor’s address highlighted a few key areas. To accompany her State of the State speech, the Governor released a briefing book containing 204 distinct proposals for the State. In her briefing book, the Governor laid out her vision in nineteen main topics areas, including: mental health, public safety, affordability, housing, maternal healthcare, education, climate change, attracting and growing New York businesses, transportation, and improving state government.

During the week preceding the State of the State, the Governor made a series of announcements previewing some of the proposals that would be included in the address. During the previous week, the Governor outlined her consumer protection and affordability plan, which seeks to, among other things, eliminate insurance co-pays for insulin and to increase the maximum benefit for paid medical and disability leave. She also announced a “Back to Basics” plan to improve reading proficiency in schools and will be proposing $10 million to train 20,000 teachers in instructional best practices for the science of reading.

Some of the highlights from the Governor’s State of the State include:

  • Creation of the Office of Service and Civic Engagement: In an attempt to promote civic and service opportunities across the State, the Governor unveiled the creation of the Office of Service and Civic Engagement. The Lieutenant Governor is tasked with presiding over the State’s strategy to amplify accessible public service opportunities. Additionally, the Governor intends to create the Empire State Service Corps Program, which will provide paid work opportunities to college students through community service.
  • Protecting New Yorkers from Extreme Weather: The Governor announced a proposal for voluntary buyouts for homeowners in flood-prone and coastal areas. These homes will be transformed into “Blue Buffers,” which will be restored as habitats capable of absorbing high-water levels.
  • Housing: Over the summer, the Governor issued an Executive Order mandating all state entities to review land that they own and control and determine whether those sites could be used for housing development. In response, state agencies identified sites that could accommodate up to 15,000 units of new housing. The Governor will propose in the budget the ability to repurpose these sites for use as housing. The Governor also called on the Legislature to work with her to enact a successor to the 421-a property tax incentive, which was a tax credit intended to stimulate the production of new rental housing in New York City.

Next Tuesday, January 16, 2024, the Governor will present her 2024 – 2025 proposed budget. This will officially kick off the start of the budget process. Once her address has been delivered, the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee will announce their joint budget hearing schedules, which will start Tuesday, January 23, 2024 and last until the end of February. In early March, both houses will release their proposed one-house budget bills and negotiations between the Governor, Senate and Assembly will commence with the hope of having a final budget deal in place by the State Constitutionally mandated deadline of April 1, 2024.

There are many factors that will make this deadline a challenge this year including that the State is facing a $4.3 billion budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year, with those deficits likely to continue into the coming years. Another challenge this year is the calendar. Easter and Passover are at different times, meaning that the usually two-week legislative break that occurs once a budget agreement has been reached won’t occur until the end of April in alignment with Passover. However, Easter is Sunday, March 31, 2024, meaning that a break will be taken for at least a few days around the April 1 budget deadline.

Please contact a member of the Government Affairs group if you have any questions.

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