ALBANY, N.Y. — As part of the Governor's State of the State address Tuesday afternoon in Albany, she stressed wanting to make New York state safer and more affordable.
Bail reform was a big topic during November's election and Governor Kathy Hochul talked about that on Tuesday. She started off by acknowledging there are two opposing sides debating this issue, but she says she thinks both sides can agree that the size of someone's bank account shouldn't determine whether they sit in jail or go home. She went on to say that was the goal of bail reform and she stands by it.
Governor Hochul also said that the bail reform law as written leaves room for improvement.
"Let's start with this base of shared understanding and have a thoughtful conversation. Not this, but this, and talk about what we can do during the budget process and make improvements to that law. Of course, we know that won't automatically bring down crime rates. We don't expect that. We also have to make sure the law is clear for our judges and what their rights are and what their expectations are," said Gov. Hochul.
In addition to the speech, Governor Hochul's office released a nearly three-hundred-page document on Tuesday that goes into more detail about what her proposals actually are. Included is a plan to bring a program piloted in Rochester to Buffalo. It's called the "Supervision Against Violent Engagement" or SAVE Program, and it places people on parole who are at the highest risk of reoffending under electronic monitoring and higher levels of supervision.
Governor Hochul is also proposing tying New York's minimum wage to inflation after it reaches $15 an hour. It is something a bunch of other states already do, and three states will have a minimum wage of over $15 an hour this year.
Hochul says it is a matter of social justice saying families deserve this.
"Like other states that have implemented this policy, we'll put on guardrails to make sure employers, the increases are predictable for them. I understand this. We also need to have flexibility in the event of a recession, but this important change will give over 900,000 minimum wage workers a lifeline, and these workers are most likely to be women," said Gov. Hochul.
The governor added that by putting money into their pockets. She believes a move like this would help the overall economy when it's spent at local businesses.
Governor Kathy Hochul also wants to help low-income families save money on their home heating bills as energy costs go up. She says energy bills are 20 to 30% higher than last year and that means people are having to choose between heating their homes and buying food.
So Hochul's proposal is to expand a program to people making under $75,000 a year to get a monthly discount on their electric bills.
Part of the proposal is to provide at least $165 million in relief for high electric bills to more than 800,000 New Yorkers.
The governor says all of our old housing stock doesn't help with the costs.
"We're calling it the Empower Plus Program and it will help low-income families retrofit their homes by adding insulation, upgrading appliances, switching from fossil fuels to clean electric heating systems, and this program will reach tens of thousands of households within a year," said Gov. Kathy Hochul.
More details about all of the topics the Governor talked about on Tuesday will be included in her proposed budget later this year.