To kick off the new year, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul headed to Albany to deliver her top 2024 State of the State Address and released her “Our New York, Our Future” agenda.
The State of the State includes 204 bold initiatives to make New York more affordable, more livable, and safer.
For just a little over an hour, Governor Hochul touched on topics and addressed concerns of New Yorkers like mental health, safety, and housing, as well as some more niche topics like the Interborough Express, launching Empire AI, creating First-In-The-Nation Statewide Paid Prenatal Leave and much more.
As you know, we aim to keep New Yorkers aware of all things at all levels, so here’s a rundown of some key plans that our Governor has up her sleeve for 2024!
Addressing mental illness in children, public safety, and strengthening New York’s health care system
As part of the Governor’s vision to address existing gaps in mental health services and support, Governor Hochul’s $1 billion plan is already helping to build early intervention and youth programs, expand access to clinics and housing, and provide employment incentives for mental healthcare workers. The plan also improves insurance coverage and adds hospital capacity so the most seriously ill can receive the required care.
Increase Access to Mental Health Care
Governor Hochul announced that the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Department of Health (DOH) have proposed regulations to expand access to mental health and addiction services. When timely appointments are unavailable for in-network coverage, New Yorkers can go out-of-network for mental health and addiction services at in-network rates.
The Governor’s changes include:
- Opening 200 new psychiatric inpatient beds under a multi-year expansion plan
- Establishing a law enforcement and mental health coordination team and funding crisis intervention training for law enforcement
- Improving mental health admission and discharge procedures for hospitals
After convening New York’s first-ever Youth Mental Health Summit in 2023, Governor Hochul is recommitting her efforts to help struggling kids and teenagers by:
- Providing resources to schools so that every school that wants one can open school-based mental health clinics
- Expanding loan repayment programs for children’s mental health practitioners
- Pushing for the passage of legislation that would hold social media companies accountable
Governor Hochul plans to expand New York’s nation-leading statewide Paid Family Leave policy to include 40 hours of paid leave for parents to attend prenatal medical appointments. That’s right, New York is the first state in the nation to establish statewide coverage for prenatal care!
Adding prenatal care as a separate qualifying event under PFL will enable pregnant workers to ensure their medical needs are met without sacrificing their ability to support the household or paid leave available for bonding following the birth.
Expanding Access To Doula Care Through Standing Order
The Governor plans to introduce legislation in her Executive Budget enabling the Commissioner of Health to issue a “standing order” allowing New Yorkers access to doula services without a referral from a physician.
Doulas are birthing experts who provide physical, emotional, and informational support before, during, and after the child-birthing experience. By issuing a “standing order” for doula coverage, New York will eliminate an unnecessary hurdle for pregnant mothers to cross, especially low-income mothers who rely on Medicaid for health insurance coverage.
Addressing the Housing Crisis by Increasing Supply
Governor Hochul is committed to addressing New York’s housing crisis and will focus in 2024 on giving New York City the tools they need to construct more housing. Proposals include:
- A four-part proposal to help New York City increase its housing supply by incentivizing the construction of new housing, including affordable housing; encouraging affordable in office conversion projects; allowing New York City to add residential density on certain projects; and legalizing basement and cellar apartments
Better Transit, Safer Streets
Governor Hochul has made transformative infrastructure investments to transform New Yorkers’ lives, work, and get around. As part of the State of the State, she is proposing:
- Planning the expansion of the Second Avenue Subway to Broadway
- Moving forward to the engineering phase of the Interborough Express
- Combatting fare evasion by drivers and subway riders
- Providing New York City with tools to lower its speed limits through “Sammy’s Law.
Plans To Strengthen New York’s Economy
Governor Hochul remains committed to making New York the most business-friendly and worker-friendly state in the nation. To build on her progress toward building a 21st-century economy in New York State, Governor Hochul will:
- Launch Empire AI, a first-of-its-kind consortium to unlock the economic potential of artificial intelligence
- Support immigrant entrepreneurs to drive innovation and economic growth
- Seek stronger protections against wage theft and child labor law violations
- Expand the State workforce by removing barriers to hiring qualified candidates
Expanding Access to Affordable, High-Quality Higher Education
Governor Hochul is committed to supporting public higher education and helping students access a high-quality, affordable education. In the 2024 State of the State Governor Hochul is proposing:
- Offering direct admission to high achieving students from the top 10 percent of New York high school classes to SUNY and CUNY campuses
- New legislation requiring school districts to ensure every high school senior completes the FAFSA
- Ensuring eligible students take advantage of SNAP benefits to address food insecurity among college students
You can head to the Governor’s website for the entire State of the State Address for the full report.