Memo: Governor Kathy Hochul’s First Year in Office
(STL.News) On August 24, 2021 Governor Kathy Hochul was sworn in as New York’s 57th Governor. The first woman to ever lead the Empire State, she hit the ground running to usher in a new era for New York and deliver results. At the start of her governorship, New York was facing significant challenges: the COVID-19 Delta variant was spreading, schools were working on plans to get children back in school, two hurricanes would devastate communities in our state, and New Yorkers were experiencing a crisis of confidence in their government and elected leaders.
Governor Hochul immediately got to work.
She began by recruiting a talented team of public servants to serve as her core advisors, appointing the most diverse cabinet in New York State’s history. From choosing Karen Persichilli Keogh and Kathryn Garcia to lead the Administration to appointing Dr. Mary Bassett to lead the Department of Health, Hochul’s leadership team was praised for reflecting ” a focus on competence by the new administration.”
Without delay, the Governor led a robust, proactive approach to tackling COVID-19 including by encouraging New Yorkers to get vaccinated and getting pandemic aid out the door more quickly to struggling renters, landlords and immigrants. In fact, New York went from worst to first in distributing rental assistance to New Yorkers under Governor Hochul’s leadership. She guided New Yorkers through extreme weather events, fighting for a robust and equitable short-term recovery while charting a path towards long-term climate resiliency. And she began the work of ushering a new era in Albany politics with new transparency and ethics policies.
In the months that followed, Governor Hochul continued to deliver results for New Yorkers. In her State of the State address and Executive Budget, the Governor laid out a bold vision for New York’s future that invests in health care, education, infrastructure, jobs, housing, gun violence prevention and public safety. Working closely with colleagues in the legislature, Governor Hochul passed a balanced State budget that delivers major wins for New Yorkers while also demonstrating unprecedented fiscal responsibility, putting the State on the path to having a record 15 percent of operating expenses in reserves.
Governor Hochul has stepped up to lead New York in moments of crisis. In the wake of a white supremacist shooting in her hometown of Buffalo, Governor Hochul worked with the legislature to pass some of the strongest new gun violence prevention laws in the country. She is working to protect New Yorkers from mass shootings and daily gun violence, including taking critical steps like raising the age to buy semi-automatic weapons and requiring the microstamping of bullets to better catch criminals.
When it became clear the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, Governor Hochul established a nation-leading $35 million abortion access funds to support providers in New York. And when the Supreme Court decided to strike down New York’s century-old concealed carry law, Governor Hochul convened a special session of the legislature to pass common-sense gun safety restrictions and begin the process of adding an Equal Rights Amendment to the New York State Constitution.
There is much more work to do to make New York safer, stronger and more successful – and Governor Hochul is just getting started. Select accomplishments of her first year in office include:
PUBLIC SAFETY & GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION
- Created the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns and funded the New York State Police Gun Trafficking Interdiction Unit.
- Responded to the Buffalo massacre with 10 new laws to combat mass shootings and domestic terrorism.
- Convened a special session of the Legislature to pass new legislation on concealed carry, in the wake of the Supreme Court’ decision that erased century-old gun laws.
- Passed targeted changes to the state’s bail laws to close loopholes for repeat offenders, go after individuals who use illegal guns and address hate crimes.
- Reformed discovery rules to help ensure a more functional justice system for all.
- Confronting gun violence with record investments in community violence intervention programs and law enforcement capabilities to reduce, prevent and solve gun crimes.
PROTECTING FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
- Created a nation-leading $35 million abortion access fund to support providers in New York.
- Passed legislative package to protect the rights of women seeking abortions in New York State.
- Broke a decades-long legislative logjam to begin the process of adding an Equal Rights Amendment to the State Constitution.
- Increasing funding to protect at-risk communities and nonprofit organizations from hate crimes.
- Launched the country’s most equitable adult-use cannabis program.
- Affirmed New York’s support for transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary and intersex individuals.
- Kept kids safely in the classroom and avoided remote learning
- Delivering unprecedented support for New York’s schools and settling the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit
- Supporting student success as they pursue higher education
- Incentivizing teaching as a profession and creating a robust pipeline for future educators
HELPING WITH RISING COSTS OF LIVING
- Suspending 16 cents of the gas tax for every gallon of gas purchased in New York until the end of the year
- Accelerated a $1.2 billion middle-class tax cut and provided a homeowner tax rebate credit for almost 2.5 million New Yorkers
- Distributed more than $550 million to help low-income consumers with home heating and other utility expenses
- Secured more than $500 million in federal grant funding to support small businesses
CREATING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
- Launched a comprehensive $25 billion housing plan to create or preserve 100,000 affordable homes across New York State
- Signed landmark legislation to transform underutilized hotel space into affordable and supportive housing
- Established the first-of-its-kind New York City Public Housing Preservation Trust
INVESTING IN TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
- Unveiled a transformative plan to create a world-class transit hub at Penn Station
- Launched plans for the “Interborough Express,” a major new transit line connecting Brooklyn and Queens
- Kicked off the $1 billion “Pave Our Potholes” initiative to improve State roads and highways
- Revitalizing New York City’s airports by finalizing the LaGuardia renovation and starting new projects at JFK.
- Connecting communities unjustly divided by highways in Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester
- Launched transformative Livingston Avenue Bridge replacement project in Albany and Rensselaer
- Created a plan to extend high speed, affordable broadband to every corner of New York
- Advancing the Gateway Project to double commuter capacity and maintain New York’s central role in the northeast region
- Signed legislation expanding use of New York City’s speed cameras in school zone
Unprecedented Support for New York’s WORKERS & Small Businesses
- Added more than 450,000 jobs to the state’s economy
- Strengthened the State’s workforce with critical investments in career education, renewed commitments to job training, and brand-new office dedicated to workforce development
- Provided $250 million in tax credits for small business’ COVID-19 related expenses
- Expanded the $800 million Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Program
- Created a new $200 million program to assist early-stage small businesses
- Expanded the $35 million Restaurant Return to Work Tax Credit
- Returned nearly $3 million in stolen wages to New York workers in coordination with the statewide Wage Theft Task Force
LEADING ON CLIMATE AND CLEAN ENERGY
- Worked to get a $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs environmental bond act on the ballot
- Made nation-leading $500 million investments in offshore wind, including breaking ground at the South Fork Wind Farm on Long Island
- Supported $1 billion in critical water infrastructure investments, including $150 million for the City of Mount Vernon
- Decarbonizing buildings across New York State, creating a roadmap towards a low-carbon future
- First-in-the-nation commitment to 100% zero emission buses
- Eliminating barriers to electric vehicle ownership and usage
BOLSTERING OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
- Passed a $20 billion long-term investment in our health care system as part of the state budget
- As the Delta and Omicron variants infected New Yorkers, protected hospital capacity while keeping schools, businesses and our economy open
- Encouraged New Yorkers to get vaccinated, leading to the highest COVID vaccination rate among all large states
- Declared a State Disaster Emergency in response to the monkeypox outbreak, and advocated for more vaccines for at-risk groups
A NEW ERA FOR NEW YORK
- Appointed the most diverse cabinet in New York State history
- Building productive relationships with local elected leaders
- Eliminating the broken JCOPE and replaced it with a new, more transparent body: the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government
- Improving the FOIL process to speed up processing times and encouraging agencies to publicly post additional documents
- Overhauled HR policies in the Executive Chamber to protect staff from abuse and harassment
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