The Problem with Gov. Hochul’s State of The State

A Column from the Desk of Assemblyman Karl Brabenec (R,C-Deerpark)

For the first time in three years, a governor of New York addressed both houses of the state Legislature when presenting their State of the State. It was a good sign that after years of pandemic precautions, things in the state government were starting to return to normal. What’s unfortunate is that normal in Albany also comes with government overreach, promises of sky-high spending and an out-of-touch party enforcing its will on all New Yorkers. While the governor spoke very optimistically, and some of her proposals may even have merit, there are several measures I’m concerned with.

One of the biggest issues comes with her goals for an increase in housing development. Her ‘Housing Compact’ ideas consist of every town, village and city creating a target number of homes within a three-year period – 3% for those within reach of the MTA, and 1% for those outside of it. If a municipality does not reach the Albany-mandated goal, her plan is for the state to step in, cut past the red tape and fast-track the development. I find the plan a bit presumptuous, as it seems to rely on a level of organic growth and development of housing projects without the influence of government. This is in spite of the fact that in the past year, the state lost a population of 180,000 due to people leaving for other areas of the country. The sheer disconnect of wanting to build nearly 800,000 new housing units statewide over the next decade, when we continue to lose over 100,000 residents a year to other states, is astounding. I think a much more appropriate plan would be to help New Yorkers afford the housing and rentals that are currently built – not build more.

Something the governor did not mention in her speech, but she did outline in her written proposal, State of the State 2023, was that she is also advising a SUNY tuition hike. The claim is that this is being done preemptively to accommodate for rising and future costs, but I can’t help but find the move backwards. Despite high application rates this past year, SUNY institutions statewide are still at historically low enrollment rates. I can’t help but think that when we need a wide base of educated adults ready to enter the workforce, the last thing we should be thinking about is putting further economic roadblocks in their way. Families statewide have been struggling with the ongoing inflation crisis, while the state has done little to help them in their daily lives. To ask prospective students to burden yet another price hike, possibly risking them taking on more debt they can’t support to fund their education, seems like the wrong move at this time.

Of course, much of the governor’s State of the State is just a wish list of agenda items for her administration. There’s no guarantee the things she wants specifically will come to pass. But these issues, among others, will pop up again this year, I’m sure. And when they do, I’ll be taking care to ensure that I fight for your best interest, and yours alone.