Local Officials React to Gov. Hochul’s 2023 State of the State

New York Governor Kathy Hochul gave the state of the state address this afternoon, laying out her vision for the year ahead and the start of her administration.

Gov. Hochul laid out several initiatives that touched on the housing crisis, mental health, crime, combating climate change, and making child care more affordable. 


-Gov. Hochul: “My fellow New Yorkers, after three very difficult, tragic, painful years, I’m proud to say that the State of our State is strong, but we have work to do.”


State Assemblymember Aileen Gunther for the NY 100 District and State Senator Peter Oberacker for the NY Senate 51 District react to the Governor’s address. 

Assemblymember Aileen Gunther of the 100th District said she was pleased to see that mental health is being addressed. 


-Gunther: “The investment in mental health around the State of New York is a long time coming. Housing for people with mental health [is a] long time coming. So I’m very excited that access to care is important. So I’m excited about that and increasing the number of psychiatric beds; we’ve been decreasing them over the last 15 to 20 years. We know there is an extraordinary need to increase the beds so that we can stabilize people on medication and hook them up with aftercare.”


Gov. Kathy Hochul Gov.Kathy Hochul said she would submit a Plan to Strengthen Mental Health Care by Increasing the Capacity for Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment by 1,000 Beds and Adding 3,500 Housing Units Serving Individuals with Mental Illness. Investing more than $1 billion to help the needs of the state. 


-Patricio Robayo: Aileen, you have campaigned on the need for changes to be made to the bail reform law; the Gov said that changes are needed; what are your thoughts on what she had to say?


-Gunther: “I’ll be excited to see what the details are. And I think that a lot of people have really recognized the need for some changes and to make sure people will stay and do the right thing. So she said she was going to do it, but didn’t really explain that affordable housing, and the large investment into affordable housing, which I think is so so important to so many communities without a place that to call home, it’s very hard to work and raise a family. So I think that’s great. You know, as we go through, though, I’ve heard many, many people speak. But at any rate, I thought some of it was very uplifting. I think that no child should go hungry. And I like to know the nuts and bolts of how we are going to reach a place where people have affordable homes, and they have a job to go to, they have to get daycare, which is so necessary for families—the devil in the details. So I’m going to read a little bit more. There were so many positive points that she made. We have to get to the finish line and make all this happen.”


Robayo-The Gov is making a big push to create more affordable and growth in the state. The Gov. is proposing every single locality across the state will have a target for building new homes. Upstate, the target is for the current housing stock to grow by 1%; what are your thoughts on that? 


Gunther: “I think that if they make the investment. In our my community and communities around me, people are living in hotels right now, and the investment will save money for the State of New York, and give people an appropriate lifestyle. I mean, it’s so important, and that investment will be a great payoff.”


Robayo: What is the outlook for the new year?


Gunther: “It’s a new year; there’s a lot more to do. We’ve been going through COVID, and it’s still not over; with RSV and COVID, we have a lot of work to do in the New York State Assembly. It’s been a tough three years. And hopefully, we can turn that trajectory around and make it a positive year.” 


State Senator Peter Oberacker for the NY Senate 51 District said he saw many positives in the state of the state.


Oberacker: “I was really excited about seeing some of the additional resources that were being mentioned, especially in the areas of strengthening like the mental health and drug addiction programs that being the ranking member on the alcoholism and substance abuse [committee]. I’m excited that there was mentioned that there was a plan potentially put in place that will really help the rural areas that I represent in my 51st Senate district. So I’m excited about that. Number two, I was kind of encouraged to see that the governor kind of recognizes that the bail reform issue really isn’t working. And there needs to be some retooling of that. I’ve said this numerous times; I’ve said there’s no shame in admitting that something of noble cause really didn’t work out the way we had planned it. As a businessman, we do this all the time. So I was really glad to see that this was being again talked about. And let’s see if we can’t work together to make the streets safer. The third thing that I take away from this, is that the message to me that the State of the State came kind of came up a little bit short on areas. Pro-growth, some tax relief policies, which I think are just vital for us to move forward. Being a businessman, I would like to see a little bit more. Most importantly, our farmers who really weren’t even really talked about only one time, I believe, in the State of the State. There are some good things; we’re going to wait to see how how it all flushes out.”


Robayo: One of those things missing was helping rural farmers?


Oberacker: “Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, with all the other economic burdens that are and I call them Agricultural Warriors[farmers], to be honest with farmers are being put through, I would have liked to have seen a some way shape or form come up with a plan to help relieve whether it be on the energy side of the equation, whether it be continuing looking at where we can help with, home heating, fuel, fertilizers. Those types of things that are a direct cost to our farmers, I would like to see us again get back into this, and we are doing this, but I’d like to see maybe a more laser-focused approach, of utilizing our products here agriculturally that are produced in New York, getting back to whole milk in the school system. I think would be a huge boost to our dairy farmers.There were some areas I would have liked to have seen, like you said, needed a little bit more focused on and brought up in the State of the State Address.”


Robayo: Gov. Hochul did talk about growth and housing. Proposing that every single locality across the state will have a target for building new homes in upstate New York, that target will be 1%. What are your thoughts on that initiative?


Oberacker: I look forward to really fully reviewing that part of the Governor’s proposal; again, it’s a couple of things that come out is…where we’re going to where we’re going to find the funds for this part of it? I’m encouraged to hear that because it is an issue, housing is definitely an issue here in my 51st. Senate district, I would like to find out where we’re to get these revenue streams from and what the actual implementation of this will be through. I hope this doesn’t turn into kind of a almost unfunded mandate to the local municipalities; that would really, I think, just be detrimental moving forward. There’s some more I need to flesh out on that part of it. But again, I’m encouraged to look at it and, and hopefully, it’s something that we could institute and be successful at.”


Robayo: Senator, is there anything else that the governor did not mention in her address that you would have liked to have heard?


Oberacker: Our farmers, to be honest with you, which was briefly mentioned. I’m really going to look at the implementation, the nuts, and bolts of what she had talked about again. Excited about some little bit, but not so excited about others. I didn’t hear about wondering where the money is going to be coming from or how we’re going to maintain it and pay for it. We were talking about a potential surplus; how much of that has already been allocated? The most in most energizing thing were the fact that the mental health strengthened. And the scourge that every one of my counties and for that matter, I think all of New York is going through with the substance abuse disorder issues.”


Robayo: Speaking of 2023, What are you working on in the new year?


Oberacker: Well, one of the great things was I’m excited about my new district. I’m the recipient of all of Sullivan County, and I’ve gotten some newer parts of Ulster County. I’ve gotten the lower half of Delaware County. So as we were starting to look at I closed down a satellite office that I had in my old district in court. And I believe we are in the process of the final stages of determining an office in Sullivan County. So the fact that we just had an individual come in that we interviewed today for, for staffing that, so I’m excited about having a point of presence in the office in Sullivan, where we can address constituent issues. We’ll be having monthly come-in meet your Senator, those types of things. So I’m really excited about that part of it. I like putting these things together and making them successful. So more information to follow. 


Robayo: Can you tell us which part of the county you are considering? 


Oberacker: “We’ve been looking around, we’ve looked in Monticello, we’ve looked in Liberty, we actually also have looked in Callicoon, believe it or not, it was kind of an interesting offer from the supervisor for up there. If I was to look at it from a centric part, the Monticello and Liberty areas, of course, are kind of more centric, I think, to the county.”


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