September 26, 2023
Albany, NY

Audio, Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks Following Cabinet Meeting

Audio, Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks Following Cabinet Meeting

Governor Hochul: “There's over 51,000 federal employees in the State of New York. It'll jeopardize assistance for 7 million vulnerable women and children, including right in our own state, almost half a million…I say that preparing New Yorkers, that this will have an impact on New York. We talked about this at our Cabinet meeting, about how we can be prepared if necessary. But we're not going to cower to the bullies. We'll stand up, we'll call them out, and just ask people in Washington to do what is so simple: just get back to work.”

Hochul: “The reserves I set aside have taken us from about 4 percent of reserves to about 16 percent. That makes me feel more comfortable because you don't anticipate whether we're going to get slammed with a serious hurricane…or even a migrant crisis. No one could have foreseen this either. So you have to be ready…And at the same time, we have to show our compassion to people. We're never going to compromise our values – never, ever. We're proud of the Statue of Liberty…Reflect on the fact that likely many of your family members…saw that statue when they steamed into this harbor in search of the same thing that the migrants are looking for today, and that is the dignity of a job.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks and hosted a media availability following her Cabinet meeting in Albany. During the meeting, the Governor spoke with members of her Administration about the asylum seeker crisis, the potential federal government shutdown, and other pressing issues facing New York. Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President Tom Perez also joined the meeting to discuss Washington’s support for New York as the state continues to respond to the asylum seeker crisis.

During her remarks, Governor Hochul also announced that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas granted a request for an emergency conference in a case trying to dismantle New York's Concealed Carry Improvement Act. The Governor will continue working to fight these challenges and keep New Yorkers safe.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good afternoon, everyone. Before I begin with a summary of what we just talked about at our Cabinet meeting, I'd like to just share some news. Washington never ceases to amaze us, but we just learned in the last hour that Justice Clarence Thomas – yes, the one and only – granted a request for an emergency conference in a case that is designed to dismantle New York's Concealed Carry Improvement Act.

You're aware of why we had to, first of all, past such legislation, because after being on the books about 108 years, a law that protected New Yorkers, allowed a Governor to protect her citizens from having lawlessness, or having people carrying guns concealed, you know, in grocery stores and on subways, and in Times Square and in parks across our state.

When that was struck down by the Supreme Court, we sprung into action. We passed another law, the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, in order to meet the dictates of the Supreme Court. In our opinion, it passed muster, it was effective, and of course because it works, it was challenged in court. So we had a reprieve a short time ago with Justice Sotomayor, but the next step is that Clarence Thomas has moved for an emergency conference to try and dismantle this.

They are dead set on placating their NRA donors and supporters, and we are the ones left to clean it up. We are working really hard to ensure that New Yorkers are safe. What we talk about all day long – the safety of New Yorkers in our streets, in our public places, and in our homes. And we don't want a situation where there's an incident, tempers flare, tensions rise, and instead of just a shove or an angry word, someone happens to have a concealed weapon on them. That is not the New York we envision, not the New York we want, and not the New York that we'll stop fighting for.

I called a special session. We have laws on the books. They've tried a few times, but we expect this to continue to the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Second Circuit. But in the meantime, everyone should know that the current law remains in effect. But we are ready for any other efforts to thwart our efforts, state's efforts, state's responsibilities to protect our citizens.

That's what we're focused on. I will not allow their recklessness to affect the safety of New Yorkers, full stop. And we believe that our law is Constitutional, and we'll stand by it.

As long as we're talking about Washington – God, I'm glad I'm not there anymore. We're facing now, our doomsday clock was launched yesterday. We are now down to four days before a possible shutdown, or Saturday night. So, what can I say? Republicans in Washington are reckless. Their words have an impact.

We have an economy that is still not fully back from the pandemic. It's not positive news when the markets and the rest of the world and investors and every day people hear that they have individuals representing our nation in Washington who are willing to bring us to the brink once again and literally jump off the cliff.

So there's over 51,000 federal employees in the State of New York. It'll jeopardize assistance for 7 million vulnerable women and children, including right in our own state, almost half a million. That's just one example of what we expect to happen. And inspections that won't occur. And we don't expect that they're going to shut down DHS, but we're trying hard to get migrants a chance to work now.

If the Department of Labor is not fully functioning, and the coordination that's required from different agencies isn't functioning, it's going to have an effect. SoI say that preparing New Yorkers, that this will have an impact on New York. We talked about this at our Cabinet meeting, about how we can be prepared if necessary. But we're not going to cower to the bullies. We'll stand up, we'll call them out, and just ask people in Washington to do what is so simple: just get back to work and do what you're sent there to do. Pass important legislation, pass a budget, pass a continuing resolution, pass a supplemental – just do something.

I'm happy now to describe, and I've got that off my chest, a very productive Cabinet meeting. They're great people, extraordinary public servants. We last gathered at the beginning of summer, and we had a chance to have a reset and talk about what's happened since that time. I want to recognize the people who are here with me today, who are leaders of our Administration.

Karen Persichilli Keogh is the Secretary to the Governor. I thank you for leading an extraordinary team of people. And Kathryn Garcia, Director of State Operations, called on hourly to help solve problems. Thank you, Kathryn, for what you do for us. Our newly minted Budget Director, Blake Washington, who has so much experience. He just stepped in the role and has my full confidence.

Jackie Bray, the Commissioner of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, who – we talk all day long, Commissioner Bray. All day long, all night long, all morning long. You've been instrumental in handling this humanitarian crisis. And we spent a lot of the meeting talking about where we are, the fact that we were able to make a very strong case for work authorization. It still continues. We'd like a compression of the time it takes for asylum seekers to get their approvals because that'll allow people – they come here seeking work, so let's put them to work. It's that simple. But what was very good news was the knowledge that at least the Venezuelans who are here who came before July 31 would be eligible because of what President Biden did. And the Temporary Protective Status will make a big difference for us.

I also had an opportunity to let someone who's been really key to progress with Washington Zoom into our Cabinet meeting. We had Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President, Tom Perez, who is in charge of intergovernmental relations. I made a joke that intergovernment means he is spending all day long on New York issues because we have been speaking to him – he started in early July and have had countless conversations. But he has had meetings and Zoom calls and constant communication with us. And that's why I give him a lot of credit for helping have a breakthrough with Floyd Bennett Field.

The use of that federal facility, that had been a hard no. Also, his work to help us get our message across about the TPS for Venezuelans. And so he just talked about the timing on the issues, what we can expect. We want to make sure that gets out there, that it's not imminent that it actually has to be – the change for TPS actually has to be printed in the Federal Register. And they have some requirements, so those who are expecting to start the next day will be a little disappointed, but we are in a far better place than we had been.

Yesterday, I talked about directing 150 additional National Guard members to support the asylum seekers. They are literally at the Roosevelt Hotel. They're the ones who greet people when they come. They start having communications. “What do you need?” Helping them become assimilated. Sometimes bringing food, sometimes getting diapers. Sometimes putting together a crib. They're just extraordinary. And for me to be able to talk to them yesterday was really important. But shifting them into responsibility of case management. I spoke about this. It's labor intensive. And so, when people say they can only get to a certain number of cases a day, then my automatic response is, “Well then I'll bring more people. I'll bring in the National Guard to help with this.” And that's literally what we did.

So the whole idea is to – and Commissioner Bray likes to talk about the front door. We don't have a lot of control about the front door. That is literally the border with the south with Mexico, and we know what's happening there. But what we can do is make sure that that back door out of the shelters is open wider and sooner. So case management is the path to do that, to get these people on a path, again, I'll say it again – they came here to work, they want to work, so let's put them to work. And, it helps address our labor shortage. I was up at the Business Council, just on Friday. Literally people handing me their business cards, “Can you send me migrants? Can you send me migrants? I need workers.” There is a sense of desperation in many parts of our state. It’s incredibly challenging, the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

When you have a 3.9 percent unemployment rate, which is something worth bragging about. It went down significantly since the 6.9 percent that I inherited. But it's, that's a great dynamic, great talking point, except that means there's a lot of openings for people who are not here today. So this can help solve this humanitarian crisis, it can help solve our work, solve our problem at construction sites and in nursing homes and in hotels and restaurants and so many places.

I've talked about the fact that we have over 400,000 open jobs. Now, for example, the Venezuelans, they're not all just qualified to work on farms. Venezuela was a very prosperous country. There are individuals who have skills, technology skills, and nursing skills, and construction skills, and doctors, and scientists. They all had to leave. And so we want to make sure we match them – match them with their skills to the jobs that we have open. We're close to launching the DOL run portal, which we'll be talking about probably in another week or so. We’ll have all the details on that. But that'll be in place prior to such time as the Venezuelans are, who are eligible, are able to work.

And so we also spend a lot of time on that. I have over 17 agencies right now where we are deploying personnel, leadership on down to people that's helping us with call centers. We have to call through these individuals, find out who's eligible. We have to get everybody's cell phones, and there's a lot involved. But I really was grateful to my team for all the work they do.

We also talked about the fiscal situation heading into the next budget cycle. That's been, of course, impacted by the humanitarian crisis. As many of you reported, our new Budget Director, Blake Washington, sent a letter to agencies last night, basically saying, “Hold the line. Hold the line.” And, I have to remind everyone, that's after two solid years of record spending levels to make up for, some cases, decades of disinvestment, unprecedented funding because we needed to do that to improve the lives of New Yorkers – areas where we had not properly funded before like our SUNY system, Foundation Aid, a 20-year battle to make sure that communities that really needed it got the resources they need for education, and countless other areas. Our Capital Plan to make sure we have the ability to capitalize on the fact that we have more money coming out of Washington, but we have to have our state dollars to support it.

So we have had record spending levels, which was to make up for lost time, lost investment, but they knew then and reinforcing now that is not the path we can continue on. That was a couple of years of making up. And now we have tostabilize and be realistic. And so, we are still investing more than any Administration in history, but we have to be smart about our investments and not let the assumption be that we can always continue at that pace.

Because I'll always make sure that we have enough in a rainy day fund. The reserves I set aside have taken us from about 4 percent of reserves to about 16 percent. That makes me feel more comfortable because you don't anticipate whether we're going to get slammed with a serious hurricane that takes down our energy grid, where we have to come up with billions of dollars on our own, or even a migrant crisis. No one could have foreseen this either.

So you have to be ready. And I've long believed that we have to be prepared for any circumstances. And at the same time, we have to show our compassion to people. We're never going to compromise our values – never, ever. We're proud of the Statue of Liberty. We refer to it a lot, but reflect on what that means. Reflect on the fact that likely many of your family members – parents, grandparents, great grandparents – saw that statue when they steamed into this harbor in search of the same thing that the migrants are looking for today, and that is the dignity of a job.

We put them to work, we achieve that for them, we maintain our values, and we also solve a crisis here in New York. That is the opportunity that lies before us.

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