January 9, 2024
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Remarks as Prepared: Governor Hochul Delivers 2024 State of the State Address

Video, Audio, Photos & Remarks as Prepared: Governor Hochul Delivers 2024 State of the State Address

Public Safety Initiatives Will Combat Hate Crimes, Domestic Violence and Retail Theft; Legislation Will Crack Down on Illicit Cannabis Storefront

Treatment for Serious Mental Illness Will Improve With 200 New Psychiatric Inpatient Beds, Improved Hospital Discharge Procedures, Funding to Expand Mental Health Court

With Kids and Teens Facing Mental Health Crisis, Governor Proposes a School-Based Mental Health Clinic for Every School That Wants One

Next Phase of Long-Term Housing Agenda Will Focus on Increasing Supply In New York City; Thousands of New Housing Units to be Constructed on State-Owned Land

Continue New York’s Nation-Leading Climate Policies While Ensuring the Clean Energy Revolution is Affordable for All New Yorkers; Set Bold Goal to Plant 25 Million Trees Over Next Decade

SUNY and CUNY Schools Will Offer Direct Admission to Top 10% Of Students at New York High Schools

Second Avenue Subway Planned to Extend to Broadway, Interborough Express Moves Forward

Over Past Week, Governor Unveiled Consumer Protection & Affordability Agenda, “Back to Basics” Reading Plan, Maternal and Infant Health Plan, NY SWIMS, Empire AI Consortium and Office of Service and Civic Engagement

204 Groundbreaking Proposals Will Make New York More Affordable, More Livable and Safer

State of the State Book Available Here

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered the 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.

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 will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

The Governor's remarks as prepared are available below:

Good afternoon, everyone. It’s an honor to be back with you in this hallowed chamber a place where since 1879 civic-minded New Yorkers have wrestled with everything from the Great Depression to World Wars to the everyday issues that matter most to the millions who call our State home.

Generations of past leaders shared the solemn responsibility of representing our citizens and I’m honored to be joined by the leaders of today.

Thank you Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado I’m proud to have you by my side.

And thank you Senior Pastor Darius Pridgen for that beautiful invocation. I also want to thank my partners in government: State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, State Attorney General Tish James, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, Judges of the New York Court of Appeals, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Mayors and County Executives from across the State, And Former Governors David Paterson and George Pataki.

Representatives from labor, distinguished guests, and clergy leaders including Dr. A. R. Bernard, president of our Executive Interfaith Council.

Members of my cabinet, Secretary Karen Persichilli Keogh and Counsel Liz Fine and a special tribute to my policy director, the visionary behind many of our ideas, Micah Lasher.

But today is not about us. It’s about the 20 million hard-working New Yorkers we are privileged to represent and what we can deliver for them in the year ahead.

I’ve listened as New Yorkers have told me about the challenges they face and the dreams they hold. And it’s with them in mind that I proudly share my vision for 2024.

The State of New York is strong.

Stronger today than when I became Governor two years ago.

Healthier.

Safer.

More affordable.

We’ve traversed rocky terrain, but there are still some switchbacks before we reach the summit. Across our nation and our state people worry that a safe and affordable life is out of reach.

While shootings and murders have declined by double digits safety at the grocery store, the synagogue or on the subway is always top of mind.

Although we’ve made great strides to take guns off our streets, too many parents are fearful as their children get on the bus each morning. And too often, troubled individuals are discharged from the hospital without receiving the care they need and go on to commit violent acts.

The potential of a crime no matter how serious, is causing anxiety for our residents.

On top of that, they are also frustrated with the rising cost of living. Inflation is down from 9.1 percent to 3.1 percent over the last eighteen months. Paychecks are finally growing. And yet, many of our neighbors are struggling to make a dollar go further.

And sadly, they feel that no matter how hard they work they’ll never get as far or be as successful as their parents.

These are the reasons I fight every day to give New Yorkers a shot at a better life.

Since taking office I’ve worked with the legislature to help create more than 600,000 jobs and reduce unemployment from 7.4 percent to 4 percent while holding the line on taxes across the board; and in fact, cutting them for the middle class.

We boosted K-12 education by $5.3 billion - an extraordinary 18 percent increase - and fully funded foundation aid for the very first time in state history.

We increased health care funding by 20 percent to more than $112 billion and gave $1.3 billion in raises for home health aides and bonuses for health care workers.

And just this morning as a result of our hard work with the Biden administration, we’ll be able to invest $6 billion of Federal funds, into our health care system over the next three years.

This funding will support our safety-net hospitals address health care workforce shortages and strengthen access to primary and behavioral health care - all important priorities of mine.

On top of all that, in the last two years we invested a record $7 billion in childcare.

Meanwhile, we also saved the MTA from a looming fiscal cliff that threatened the economy of the entire region and grew ridership by 435 million riders.

And no prior administration or legislature has invested more, faster in our roads, bridges and public infrastructure to rebuild our State.

I’m grateful for your continued partnership and for the leadership of our Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins and our Speaker, Carl Heastie.

We’ve worked hard to restore trust and integrity in Government and here’s what I know - you’ll always see more headlines about the handful of places where we disagree, but the truth is we are united in our commitment to the people of this state. And together, we’ve already achieved so much.

But simply standing here and reciting accomplishments is not what people want from their leaders.

We will continue to fight the right fights on their behalf and relentlessly pursue common-sense ideas that lift all residents of this great State.

Joining us today is Quentin Colón Roosevelt. Quentin is the great-great-great grandson of Teddy Roosevelt who took the oath to become President exactly 125 years ago in Buffalo of all places.

At just 19-years-old, Quentin is the youngest elected official in Washington, D.C. Like Quentin, I too was inspired by the 33rd Governor of New York.

In fact, I quoted him on my very first day in office. I promised to always “strive valiantly” on behalf of New Yorkers and to be the woman in the arena.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do by taking on stubbornly persistent crimes like retail theft domestic violence and hate crimes by revolutionizing our mental health infrastructure so people actually get the help they need.

And by protecting your hard-earned money from bad actors and predatory lenders.

At the same time, we will continue to build a New York that welcomes businesses, new and existing, small and large, family-owned and publicly traded.

We’ll keep driving the long-delayed infrastructure and public transit projects like the 2nd Avenue Subway Extension Interborough Express, I-81 Viaduct and the Kensington expressway, creating thousands of good-paying union jobs so our workers can support their families.

And we’ll fight for minimum wage workers, because no one should labor 40 hours a week and still live below the poverty line. We’ll fight for farmers threatened by extreme weather and workforce shortages. We’ll fight for seniors struggling to make ends meet on a fixed income. We’ll fight for women balancing motherhood and careers. And we’ll fight for children just beginning their journey in life.

In so doing we will pursue the common good with common sense by seeking common ground.

As we uphold these commitments, understand this: we cannot spend money we do not have.

Pandemic funds from Washington have dried up. Inflation didn’t just hit families, it hit State government operations as well.

It’s on all of us to make hard yet necessary decisions and use taxpayer dollars creatively and responsibly.

I’ll discuss how we’ll tackle fiscal issues like caring for migrants and a substantial structural deficit in next week’s budget speech.

But right now, let’s talk about how we provide a better life for New Yorkers starting with the initiatives I’ve already announced since the New Year.

Last year, infant deaths were up for the first time in 20 years and Black and brown women remain three to four times more likely to die in childbirth. I won’t allow this to continue on my watch. To ensure Moms have healthy pregnancies, I want to make New York the first State in the nation to offer pre-natal leave.

And we must protect women from unnecessary surgeries that put them at risk. We’re also giving children the resources they need to live full healthy successful lives.

That starts with teaching them how to read. I say it’s time we get rid of debunked curriculums in schools and get back to basics using phonics and proven techniques that work.

We’re also promoting physical health and wellbeing by building pools in underserved communities and teaching people to swim.

And I am proud to announce that Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado will lead a newly created Office of Service and Civic Engagement.

He and his team will connect talented New Yorkers who want to give back especially young people to service opportunities across the state.

And this is just the start of our comprehensive agenda for New York in 2024. We’ll protect the environment by planting 25 million trees fund resiliency efforts expand solar power access and help our State meet our bold emissions targets.

We’ll promote jobs in agriculture and invest in family-owned farms.

We’ll connect New Yorkers with disabilities to career opportunities and fund research into rare diseases like ALS, which robs millions, like my own Mother, of their vitality.

While we address countless challenges with the 204 – yes, 204 - policy initiatives in our 2024 State of the State book, which I’m sure will find its way to your nightstands this evening.

Today I will focus on key priorities in our common sense agenda for New York: fighting crime, fixing our mental health system and protecting New Yorkers’ hard earned money.

Let’s talk about crime.

If Government can’t keep New Yorkers safe, nothing else matters. In the last year, we’ve reduced gun violence, bringing shootings down by more than a third across the state.

Murders are down 21 percent in New York City and 38 percent upstate.

We made key revisions to bail reform to make New York safer and enacted gun control legislation that is a model for the rest of the nation.

But certain types of crime have been stubbornly high. New Yorkers see it every day. Graffiti scrawled outside a synagogue. Baby formula locked behind plastic panels. A couple’s argument turned violent and punctuated by gunshots.

And on the subway people suffering a mental breakdown, or an overdose. Episodes like these can cause an atmosphere of anxiety in our communities. But our success in driving down gun violence proves that targeted strategies work and that changing trends is possible.

Today we’re unveiling a series of crime-fighting tactics alongside an era-defining mental health initiative so New Yorkers can live free from chaos and disorder and focus on the things in life that matter most.

First, we must ensure everyone is safe at home by protecting them from domestic violence. Random attacks may get more press, but New Yorkers are much more likely to be hurt by someone they know.

In a third of all assaults, the attacker and the victim have a prior relationship. Our system fails far too many survivors.

In New York City alone, 84 percent of domestic violence arrests end with dismissals.

Think about that.

And before last year, too many abusers had access to guns. So, we changed the law. Now, with the Supreme Court poised to possibly overturn a law that keeps guns away from abusers the need to strengthen protections is more urgent than ever.

My own mother grew up in a home where domestic violence was routine. She dedicated her life to helping survivors break the cycle of trauma. And we know prosecuting violent abusers is the best way to protect survivors.

Take the story of Elizbeth Beechert, here with us today.

Elizbeth lives right across the river in Troy. Not long ago, she was trapped in an abusive relationship. She and her pets suffered regular abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. He killed one of her kittens, and maimed another.

Then, one day, her life changed.

A veterinarian told her about Unity House - a nonprofit that helps survivors of domestic violence. She eventually met Troy Police Detective Russ Clements, who’s also joined us.

He helped Elizbeth find the strength to pursue justice and file charges. He assisted her with police reports and stood by her side at the grand jury. With his support, Elizbeth has made a clean break from her abuser and is rebuilding her life.

Elizbeth and Detective Clements are both here today. Let’s give them both a round of applause.

I want to hear more hopeful stories like this.

That’s why we’re dedicating $20 million so district attorneys can gather evidence to prosecute abusers and take their guns away.

And we’re committing funding so police can protect those most at risk of abuse and clamp down on repeat offenders.

Because every survivor should have the same chance to break the chain of violence and build a new life.

Across our nation and our state, retail theft has surged, creating fear among customers and workers. Thieves brazenly tear items off shelves and menace employees. Owners go broke replacing broken windows and stolen goods, driving many out of business.

These attacks are nothing less than a breakdown in the social order.

I say: no more. The chaos must end.

For the very first time, we are launching a joint operation between federal state and local law enforcement, along with a new State Police Unit, to crack down on organized retail theft.

We used this approach with illegal guns and it worked.

I’m also proposing a tax credit to help business owners cover additional security costs. And I’ll work with the legislature to strengthen penalties for assaulting a retail worker or fostering the sale of stolen goods online.

Let’s back our businesses and workers with the full force of the law and punish those who think they can break the rules with impunity.

This extends to the illegal cannabis vendors who flagrantly violate our laws. We’ll empower localities to go after unlicensed shops, prosecute businesses that sell to minors and padlock their doors faster.

Finally, I want to talk about hate crimes, particularly the rising tide of antisemitism and Islamophobia. Since the horrific attacks by Hamas against Israel on October 7th, there’s been a roughly 95 percent increase in hate crimes against Jewish residents of New York City and we’re seeing a surge of anti-Muslim hate crimes too.

Our neighbors are being targeted on playgrounds, in synagogues, and on college campuses.

I will not rest until every Jewish and Muslim child feels safe going to school or entering their house of worship.

So, we propose to make more than two dozen additional offenses - from gang assaults to graffiti - eligible for prosecution as hate crimes. This means enhanced liability and sentences and ultimately standing up for what is right.

We will carry on this fight until every New Yorker feels safe at home, at prayer, and at work.

But no matter how much we spend on law enforcement or expand their powers, New Yorkers will not be able to let their guard down until we fix our mental health system. Because here’s the truth: from Brooklyn to Buffalo, many New Yorkers are struggling.

Mental illness does not discriminate.

It touches the rich and the poor alike, reaches into schools and senior centers with the same severity.

Even our first responders are suffering. Their experiences on the job expose them to horrific circumstances and suicide rates among law enforcement are about 60 percent higher than the general population.

And too often the people involved in violent incidents on our streets or in our subways are victims themselves. Victims of a system that has failed to provide them the treatment they need.

High quality care must be widely available, accessible and affordable. Yet for decades, our mental health system was deprioritized and defunded. Over the ten years before I took office, funding for mental health grew only 2 percent. Not even keeping up with inflation.

The result?

Too few psychiatric beds, too few mental health practitioners and failing support systems.

Combine this with pandemic isolation, opioid addiction and the toxic algorithms that govern social media, it’s no wonder we have a serious problem on our hands.

Make no mistake – this is the defining challenge of our time.

That’s why my administration, working with the Legislature, already made unprecedented investments in mental health care - a 33 percent increase over the last two years.

And we boosted funding by $1 billion last year alone.

Here’s what this allows us to do: target hundreds of millions of dollars towards outpatient community-based services, create more than 3,500 new housing units for individuals suffering from mental illness, increase our inpatient psychiatric treatment capacity by 1,000 beds and initiate sweeping measures to help our children, including millions for suicide prevention, eating disorder care and school-based mental health clinics.

Focusing on our kids is critical because they’re our most precious resource and investing in mental health services for the young means they won’t be relegated to a lifetime of needing care later on.

When schools closed during COVID, kids turned to social media to stay connected to friends and family.

But a darkness lives on those platforms.

Content often promotes themes of sadness, alienation, and even suicide. The algorithms that make social media so addictive push that darkness onto young users.

I’m thinking of New Yorkers like Alexis Spence who grew up on Long Island. She joined Instagram at only 11 years old. Immediately, the algorithm started suggesting images and videos that promoted eating disorders and themes of low self-worth. By the time she was 15, Alexis was spiraling.

She was losing weight.

She didn’t sleep.

Her life wasn’t hers anymore, it belonged to the algorithm. After her parents intervened… and after two weeks in a psychiatric facility without her phone, she emerged a changed person, able to assert herself again.

Today she continues to advocate for other young people at risk and dreams of one day testifying before Congress about the dangers of social media.

Believe it or not, Alexis is one of the lucky ones.

And her mother, Kathleen, is here with us today.

As Kathleen says, “social media is the silent killer of our children’s generation.” According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 4 teens have considered suicide - double the figure reported a decade ago. For teenage girls, that number rises to 1 in 3. That’s why we’re going to tackle the scourge of social media that has harmed so many minds.

Attorney General James and I will continue demanding accountability from social media companies. We’ll advance legislation to protect children’s privacy and regulate the algorithms that target them on their social media feeds. We’ll expand peer-to-peer support programs so kids can share safe spaces with others with similar challenges.

In the meantime, we must help the children who are hurting right now.

We’ll start with an historic investment to make mental health services available to every school-aged child and ensure that very school that wants a mental health clinic will get one.

I’m glad to be joined today by a courageous young New Yorker - Brianna Braverman.

Brianna has worked tirelessly to support school-aged New Yorkers through a program called Youth ACT, which enables young people wrestling with mental illness to stay in their schools and communities rather than receiving inpatient treatment.

Today, we’re building on the progress she’s already made. Everyone in this room can agree, that healthy children are more likely to grow into healthy adults. But the tragic reality is too many people grew up without the support they needed and now pose a danger to themselves or others.

That’s why I’m proposing comprehensive reforms to our behavioral health system. Starting in 2024, we will require hospitals to screen patients with mental health conditions for risks like suicide, violence, substance use and other complex needs.

And we will also require that follow-up psychiatric care be coordinated before patients leave the hospital. This is common sense, but it hasn’t been happening.

Let’s significantly expand mental health courts, which are proven to reduce recidivism and empower court-based mental health specialists so our most vulnerable get help rather than cycle in and out of the justice system.

And, as we all know, the most extreme cases involve people committing violent crimes often lacking the capacity to live safely on their own.

Just two weeks ago at Grand Central, one of those individuals pulled a knife and stabbed two young tourists. Thankfully, their injuries were not life threatening, but these episodes exact a vast psychological toll on our communities.

And just as that act of violence was inexcusable, so too were the repeated failures that allowed the perpetrator to slip through the cracks. Diagnosed with numerous mental health conditions, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - he had a history of terrorizing those he loved and falling into rageful, menacing episodes. He should have received help long ago.

We cannot wait for someone to lash out and hurt another before we take action. By then, it’s already too late.

A relatively small number of people need the most intensive care, so we will fund specialized housing to provide services to individuals with a history of criminal justice involvement.

We also know New Yorkers in crisis are often discharged back into our communities, not because they’ve recovered, but because there’s no more room in our hospitals.

That’s why we’re creating 200 new best-in-class inpatient beds for those with the most serious needs. But mental health care is not just for those in crisis. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, grief, addiction.

We’ve all needed support at one time or another to deal with the struggles of life. But seeing a therapist can be expensive and some people can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket.

For too long, insurance companies have refused to adequately pay for mental health support.

That changes now.

I want to increase reimbursement rates for all state-licensed mental health services. And new regulations will require insurers to provide out-of-network coverage when timely appointments are not available in-network.

We’ll also provide the Department of Financial Services with more staff and more discretion to increase fines on insurers that flout the new rules. This matters because we know when people don’t get help, their struggles only become more intense.

Addiction is the same. We’ve all seen lives sapped by opioid dependence. My own family has been touched by this epidemic of pain. I still mourn the loss of my nephew and the millions of other lives needlessly cut short.

That’s why we’re harnessing the over $200 million in opioid settlement funds secured by Attorney General James to bolster and support our workforce of addiction treatment professionals, grow our street outreach efforts, and distribute more naloxone and millions more life-saving fentanyl test strips. We’re leading the nation in our disbursement of these funds and spending them quicker than any other state.

I envision a future where no parent ever finds their child lifeless and glassy-eyedagain. Where every New Yorker can feel safe walking our streets or taking the subway, and where our children have every resource they need to become the best versions of themselves.

Our vision for New Yorkers does not stop with making them safer and supporting their mental health needs. Protecting their financial health has to be a top priority as well.

We’ve worked hard with the Legislature to make New York more affordable.

Since I took office, we’ve raised the minimum wage and tied it to inflation, delivered tax relief and utility savings to millions of lower- and middle-class New Yorkers and recruited world-class companies to bring high-paying jobs.

Last week I detailed a series of actions to further protect New Yorkers from cheats and scammers. I’m proposing the first significant change to our consumer protection laws in more than 40 years. We’re going to prohibit “unfair” and “abusive” practices like student loan servicers pushing borrowers toward the most expensive repayment options and debt collectors manipulating seniors into giving up protected income.

We’ll establish regulations on the Buy Now, Pay Later loan industry which too often lures consumers into spending beyond their means. And we are taking on medical debt and dramatically increasing paid disability leave. Because believe it or not it has not been raised a penny in 35 years.

What’s the point of paying for this benefit your entire life if it only provides a fraction of what you need to recover? We must right this wrong and increase this benefit from the paltry $170 a week people get right now to as much as $1,250. That’s seven times more than what it has been, and I say it’s about time.

As we all know, illness or even an injury like a weightlifting mishap can strike at any moment. A ride in an ambulance or a minor surgery can lead to financial ruin. I’ve already signed laws scrubbing medical debt from credit reports and banning providers from garnishing wages.

Now, I’m proposing legislation to protect low-income New Yorkers from being sued for medical debt, cap monthly payments and interest, and expand hospital financial assistance programs. The cost of life-saving medicine can also weigh down New Yorkers.

Of the 1.6 million New Yorkers diagnosed with diabetes, many struggle to afford insulin. One of them is Heather Whitney, who’s needed insulin every day to survive for the last 32 years, and who joins us here today. She has spent her life managing her disease and fighting on behalf of others with diabetes, college students rationing insulin, seniors skipping entire doses, and diabetic parents going without insulin so their sick children can be treated.

This must end once and for all. I want a ban on co-pays for insulin for anyone on a State-regulated insurance plan because no one asks to become a diabetic and they deserve our care and compassion.

Now let’s get to the most important issue when it comes to affordability: The obscenely high costs of rents and mortgages caused by the unconscionable shortage of housing in New York. It’s one of the forces driving people out of our State. And out-migration is a problem we need to talk about.

For 50 years, we’ve been hemorrhaging families who can no longer afford to raise their children in the same communities where they were born. This decline shows no sign of stopping. People aren’t moving for warmer weather or lower taxes. They’re moving next door.

Three of the top five states New Yorkers are moving to share our borders and have similar taxes. People are earning in New York, but living in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. We’re losing population relative to other states.

We’ve gone from 43 Members of Congress when I was a girl to just 26 today.

For decades, no elected official in New York had the political courage to even start a conversation about building more housing. Big cities around the nation, including our neighbors, showed ambition that dwarfed ours.

From 2011 to 2020, Washington D.C. developed 72 new housing units per 1,000 residents. Boston developed 47. New York City? Only 27. Yet, people want to live here.

Until we address our housing shortage, many of our neighbors will continue to struggle financially.

One year ago, I pushed for what The New York Times described as the most ambitious housing plan since the Rockefeller administration in the 1960s. Unfortunately, many made it clear they would not support it.

I knew we were unlikely to win this fight overnight or even in one year. But this dire situation demanded immediate action. So, I didn’t wait around for the next legislative session. We found innovative solutions using executive orders freeing 5,500 units in Gowanus that had been languishing in limbo and offered financial incentives for pro-housing communities that demonstrated a willingness to build.

Today, I am announcing a plan to expand on those efforts by developing sites that are owned by State agencies including former correctional facilities, areas near commuter rail stations, and underutilized SUNY properties. This initiative alone could create up to 15,000 new housing units. That’s a good start, but it won’t fix our affordability crisis.

Let’s be honest with New Yorkers, the only thing that will solve the problem is building hundreds and hundreds of thousands of homes. New York already spends more than any other state in the nation on housing. Our capital plan is the most ambitious in history, deploying $25 billion in funding.

And what does that get us – 100,000 new and preserved units. Critically important, but still just a fraction of what we need. Here’s what I know: Spending more money or insisting on new regulations will not get us out of the deep hole dug by decades of inaction or overcome the lack of courage to simply do what’s required.

Already, New York has vastly more regulated housing stock than any other state.

But that hasn’t meant more homes for people. That’s where the status quo has failed.

It’s a band-aid when we need reconstructive surgery.

So where does that leave us? We still need an effective, statewide approach to encourage new construction. But in the meantime, there are aggressive actions we can and must take now. I remember last year, many of the loudest voices in opposition said they believed in local control.

Well, let's put that to the test. The City of New York, which is a local government, wants to build 500,000 more homes over a decade. I agree. Let them build. Our plan for New York City includes four central components of what I proposed last year: restoring tax incentives to build housing that includes affordable housing, eliminating an outdated restriction on residential density that prevents the City from building more, supporting no-brainer ideas like the conversion of underutilized commercial property into homes, and legalizing existing basement apartments where New Yorkers already live.

Now we saw in every other state that met the challenge of building more housing. It took decades. But I approach this crisis with the sense of urgency that is required. So what are we waiting for? Let’s unleash New York City’s potential beginning this session.

And to my partners in the legislature, now is the time to act. New Yorkers are tired of waiting. I’m tired of waiting. I know we can do this. It takes political will. Collaboration.

A commitment to deliver what New Yorkers desperately want. And we, my friends, are up to the task.

Police, firefighters, nurses and teachers should be able to live in the communities they serve and our children and grandchildren should be able to one day build a life in the towns and cities where they grew up.

And while building more homes is essential, it’s also essential that we have good-paying, long-term jobs so people can provide for their families. I know as an Upstater… who has lived through decades of decline and job loss, there was a time when our greatest export was our children.

I’m glad to report those days are finally over. And as a Governor, I know it’s hard to recruit new businesses. But if we are intentional, targeted, and invest in our communities, infrastructure, and education system. We can beat out the others and land incredible companies.

That’s how we attracted Micron, with its 50,000 jobs and $100 billion investment while also supporting our home-grown companies like Corning, IBM, and GlobalFoundries.

This isn’t just about jobs in tech. It’s about the ripple effect, the local construction firms, restaurants, and small businesses that will flourish as a result.

Since taking office, I’ve been laser focused on developing industries of the future like semiconductors across the state. But now, we have a unique and fleeting opportunity to catapult New York ahead of its competition.

I propose nothing short of making New York the global leader in AI research and development. New York’s reputation across the globe has always been synonymous with boldness and innovation so where else but New York should this be happening?

AI is already the single most consequential technological and commercial advancement since the invention of the internet. The global AI market was already valued at $150 billion last year and it’s projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2030.

Other states want it too, not to mention foreign powers like China. But whoever dominates the AI industry will dominate the next era of human history. The next-generation supercomputers needed to power AI are currently owned by a handful of private companies, Google, Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI.

I’m proud to announce that New York will be the first place in the world to put that type of computing power directly in the hands of leading academic institutions that have stepped up to participate: Cornell, NYU, Columbia, RPI, and our entire SUNY and CUNY systems.

We have geniuses at these schools ready to innovate and launch companies. Now, they’ll have the power to change the world. In order to win the race for the future, we need this specific hardware. That’s why, I’m proposing the Empire AI Consortium to purchase and share AI computing power right here in New York.

We’ve already secured more than $125 million from philanthropic and university partners. And over the next decade, the state will commit up to $275 million to the consortium. So what’s in this for New Yorkers?

Just like Silicon Valley exploded in the 1980s, we will be the birthplace of countless new startups, spin-offs, and technological advancements that benefit everyone. Just imagine the possibilities. AI can help us diagnose and cure cancer, predict dangerous storms so our communities, have advanced flood warnings, or uncover solutions for stubborn racial and economic disparities in our communities.

That’s something Holliday Simms… a senior at the University of Buffalo…and who’s here with us today is already working on. She’s conducted research on how AI can improve the child welfare system, and she’s passionate about increasing Black women’s participation in computer science.

Holliday and scholars like her in our universities will help us build this industry of the future. With this new consortium, we’ll drive ethical AI development and do it in a way that protects workers and makes it a force for good in the world.

We will be the very first to harness the power of the private sector, academia and government to galvanize this industry. We will share the power and potential of AI and make it available to people like Holliday who are innovating for the good of society.

That’s how we change the world.

Together, we can ensure our children grow up in a new cradle of innovation, a globally competitive, AI-driven economy created right here in New York.

This is my message – direct to New Yorkers. You’ve heard promises before, and it’s hard not to be cynical or feel overwhelmed by the swirl of chaos in our news feeds, the war in Israel and Gaza, white supremacists attacking our houses of worship and schools, unfettered theft at the local drug store, and the stack of bills on the kitchen counter.

New Yorkers look at their bank accounts wondering how they’ll pay the rent, orafford the insulin their child needs to survive. Those nights of worry can be so long, and so dark. In those moments, I understand why some people feel that the sun is setting on the Empire State.

But I don’t despair. Because I see light on the horizon. We are a state where resiliency runs in our blood. No mountain is too steep to summit. Our strength is forged from the diversity and industry of our people. We succeed because of our contrasts, our amazing differences. We know we are more powerful together than on our own. It’s fascinating that our great state could be home to the world’s leading financial institutions and the tiny Mom and Pop shops that dot the Main Streets of charming villages.

To me, New York is a living, breathing body. And with all of its flaws and imperfections, it’s still an extraordinary and magnificent being. It is the creative minds that bring song and dance to Broadway and action to our screens. The strong backs of our proud manufacturing workers who make products sold over the world, the deft hands of our most gifted surgeons fighting cancer and saving lives, the strong shoulders of our hardworking farmers cultivating their fields to feed our people.

The nurturing spirit of our child care providers and teachers who care for our children, the concerned eyes of our health care workers, striving to heal the sick and comfort the dying, and the welcoming smile of bodega owners making a bacon, egg and cheese.

As Taylor Swift reminds us, everybody here “was someone else before.” And although people might live fundamentally different lives, they still stand side-by-side on the subway platform or share a counter at a diner, united as New Yorkers.

We all want to see our great state succeed, and that means lending a hand to those who need us most. As another one of my predecessors, FDR said: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

That’s why our policies must lift more people into the middle class and give them the same opportunities my immigrant grandparents had. We don’t want a New York with a huge gulf between the rich and the poor, we want to build a bridge to the middle class and beyond.

Today, I’ve told you how we’ll build that bridge in 2024. We’re enacting a vision of New York where veterans embark upon incredible careers, fighting the climate crisis with green energy and offshore wind. Where unions are strong and our infrastructure is resilient, able to withstand hundred-year storms. Where all children learn to read and swim. Where people with disabilities have pathways to pursue their dreams. Where our LGBTQ+ neighbors are free to be their true selves.

Where we honor and support our First Nations communities. And where women know that I will always fiercely protect their right to an abortion, fair wages, and freedom from domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment.

We’ll never compromise our progressive values as New Yorkers. Because our New York is as powerful as Niagara Falls and shines as brightly as the Montauk lighthouse. Our New York stands as resolute as Lady Liberty and our compassion runs as deep as glacier-carved Seneca Lake.

In our state, we stand by New Yorkers on their darkest of days, and we empower all people to live their lives with optimism and hope.

And if we as leaders fulfill our commitments and our promises, then this is the dawn of a new day. Welcome to our New York. Welcome to our future. Thank you.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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