Lawmakers respond to ‘State of the State’

Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, in which she acknowledged there is work to be done on bail reform, mental health and housing. There are five state representatives whose districts cover portions of Washington County. The following is a summary of their responses to the Governor’s address.

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake): “Prioritizing improvements to our public safety is paramount, and I am pleased that the Governor identified this in her State of the State address. In the coming days and weeks, I will push for the removal of the ‘least restrictive non-monetary’ language from the law and returning discretion to the judges. I’m hopeful that the governor will be receptive to this, as well as other necessary changes.

“I’m encouraged by the governor’s proposal on mental health, as there is a particular need in our region for residential treatment beds for both youths and adults, as well as supportive housing.

“The need for attainable housing, across all ages and stages of life, from small starter homes to senior housing communities is also needed to support economic development in upstate New York. People want to come work and live in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties, but they need a place to call home. I look forward to many productive and more specific conversations with Governor Hochul and others to achieve this goal.

“I am, however, concerned about the speed which we are moving towards an all-electric economy before we make sure we have the necessary renewable energy generation and transmission capacity in our grid needed to power it. Necessary investments to support this increase are needed as well. I hope to work with the governor to address this as we work towards a more sustainable future for our great state.”

Senator Dan Stec (R-Queensbury): “In her State of the State address, Governor Hochul rightfully acknowledged many of the issues New Yorkers care about, namely public safety, affordable housing and the opioid and mental health epidemics. But overall, her overarching plan to address these topics and also get our state’s economy trending in the right direction ultimately miss the mark.

“While the governor acknowledged that bail reform must be addressed, her proposal failed to both address changing which crimes are bail-eligible and restoring judicial discretion. Expanding affordable housing is a top priority in communities across our state. The governor simply mandating an expansion of affordable housing treats the symptom of the issue and not the cause, which are the high price of regulation, construction, energy and labor. These are the biggest drivers in housing costs and the major impediments in expanding affordable housing. 

“Affordability did not receive the full attention it deserves. The governor’s plan to increase minimum wage and index it to inflation will simply drive up prices on residents and businesses at a time when we currently face economic uncertainty and an escalating cost of living. We’ve seen an exodus of New Yorkers over the past several years, and failure to address the affordability issue will only allow this trend to continue.”

Senator Jake Ashby (R-Castleton): “I am encouraged that Governor Hochul is focused on expanding access to mental health care, and I am eager to vet these proposals further when she releases her budget proposal. I am hopeful she will be open to working across the aisle to invest in new counseling services for healthcare workers and first responders and to fortify the programming our veterans count on to transition to civilian life.

“While the governor indicated a willingness to revisit failed bail reform laws, anything les than a full restoration of judicial discretion would be an insult to crime victims, law enforcement officials and every family who deserves to feel safe in their neighborhood.”

Assemblyman Scott Bendett (R-Sand Lake): “The tax burden and mounting pressure over out-of-control crime is weighing heavily on New Yorkers. What our communities need right now is peace of mind and security, not hollow words and empty promises. In her State of the State Address, Governor Hochul promised to make our communities safer and more affordable. My hope is she will keep her promises to our residents. In such difficult times it is important that we can lean on each other for support and all work together.”

Assemblyman Matt Simpson (R-Horicon): “We have heard the same talk for years, promising hard-working New Yorkers and businesses brighter days ahead, yet each year it is the same – failure to deliver what our voters demand that we, as legislators, change. Skyrocketing inflation is driving people out of our great state and crime is at an all-time high in every area.

“We heard a lot of talk about building affordable housing in New York City; how about we do something meaningful to make it more affordable for all New Yorkers to own what they have now. I hope the Majority in Albany can deliver during this legislative session and fulfill the promises made to the deserving residents of New York.”