Central New York lawmakers react to Hochul's State of the State address

Originally published in WRVO

Gov. Kathy Hochul said despite the fact the past few years have been tough, she’s optimistic about the year ahead.

"We've proven to the world that when New York gets knocked down, we always, always get back up," she said in her State of the State address Tuesday.

One of the governor’s top priorities is public safety. She outlined strategies the state has taken on that she said led to double-digit decreases in homicides and shootings last year, including raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase semi-automatic weapons and launching a nine-state task force to fight illegal guns.

But Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) said he doesn’t think that will solve the problem.

"I think we have to get tough on criminals,” Barclay said. “We have to revisit bail reform, revisit “raise the age”, and ultimately, we have to get away from this, unfortunately, it's a lot from the other side of the aisle, in my house particularly, this anti-police narrative."

Hochul said a major part of fighting crime will be investing in more mental health services. She’s pledging more than $1 billion to help meet the need.

Sen. John Mannion (D-Geddes) said he’s happy to hear about investment in mental health, but he’d also like more details about how the state will support all the healthcare systems in central New York.

"They're hurting. They've gone through a lot. Many people have left the workforce because the pandemic challenges have pushed them to a point where they were ready to retire, so we have to support those," he said.

As the governor is highlighting historic investments in New York state, local lawmakers are keeping a close eye on how the state can help prepare for the arrival of tech giant Micron. Hochul is setting goals on increasing access to housing statewide, and Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse) said that’s especially important for central New York.

"The conditions of our rental housing are really poor in Syracuse, so I didn't hear anything about that, but I think she shares our goals," May said.

And as many families struggle to pay for food and gas, Hochul is proposing linking the minimum wage to the rate of inflation. May calls the plan a “game changer.”

"Tying it to inflation is really the only way to keep people at the lowest income levels, helping them keep pace with the actual cost of living," she said.

However, Barclay said he has major concerns about people migrating out of New York state, and he thinks raising the minimum wage will make the problem worse.

"It makes it more expensive to do business in New York, less people will be doing business in New York,” Barclay said. “There will be less employment, and it's just a bad cycle that we'd get in by doing that."

The details of Hochul’s plans are expected to be outlined in her executive budget proposal, due Feb. 1.