Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson: On the Governor’s 2024 State of the State Address

Rochester NY – As newly appointed Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Labor, I was encouraged to hear Governor Hochul highlight the need to support our hardworking New Yorkers to ensure we provide enhanced worker protections and develop a more affordable and inclusive economy. Governor Hochul’s address illustrated an understanding of the challenges our hardworking families experience as they balance the demands of parenting, employment and a fluctuating economy. By increasing maximum benefits for paid leave for families and those on medical or disability leave, promoting education reforms, and developing health and safety measures, including for mental health, more New Yorkers will have the opportunity to succeed.

“I am committed to working with my colleagues, Governor Hochul, and stakeholders from across the region to ensure that we place a strong emphasis on policies to help our families and hardworking New Yorkers succeed, including those individuals and families from marginalized communities and those historically left on the economic sidelines,” said Assemblymember Bronson. “I will make sure we are championing legislation and initiatives that focus on bringing good paying jobs with benefits, and worker protections for organized labor and all workers so that all New York families can achieve economic stability and prosperity now and for the future. I will continue to make sure our economic development efforts contain PLAs and components that secure funds for apprenticeships and workers who need additional skills training.”

I fully support the Governor’s plan to expand Upstate economic development through the creation of ON-RAMP (One Network for Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships), and I am proud to say Rochester was identified as a high-impact strategic location for one of three new workforce development training centers. These centers will provide advanced manufacturing credentials and training opportunities for marginalized and low-income communities so we can meet the growing demand for high-skilled workers in our region. ON-RAMP also takes into account wraparound services to uplift families out of poverty, not just with job placement and employment training, but through partnerships with area non-profits to offer transportation, childcare, and other critical needs that will bring people into the workforce and support them in having long and fulfilling careers.

One of the most important issues we will tackle this year is housing. I look forward to working with the Governor to increase our affordable housing stock for middle and lower-income families, improve tenant protections and develop sustainable paths to homeownership. We also must invest in renovating and restoring homes and converting buildings in disinvested communities, which will allow neighborhoods to grow and flourish. The first step towards a secure and prosperous community is having a place to call home.

Integral to increasing equity, opportunity and improving public safety, is a robust plan to address child poverty. Nine out of the top ten zip codes in New York with the highest rates of child poverty are, sadly, in Upstate. For too long Rochester has struggled with the unfortunate reality that nearly 1 in 2 of our children live below the federal poverty line. Workforce development resources help to change these trajectories but are not enough to address the root causes. I thank Governor Hochul for pledging $50 million to several upstate cities, including Rochester, to support anti-poverty efforts in our region.

I also applaud the Governor’s Back to Basics Reading Program, supported by NYSUT, which will benefit our students and teachers. Reading is the foundation of education and a gateway to the joy of learning, and this transformative program will make sure New York’s students develop the skills they need to become lifelong learners and reduce future inequities in our economy and workforce.

Our state is facing an unprecedented mental health and healthcare crisis. And we must vigorously invest in efforts to increase access to mental health services and reduce the stigma of mental health care, which includes school-based mental health centers, digital literacy education and social media regulation for our youth. Social media has emerged as a leading cause of the mental health crisis affecting our young people, and I appreciate the steps the Governor is taking to bring awareness to this critical matter, which affects New Yorkers at every level. However, one important matter to ending our healthcare and mental health inequities is to increase Medicaid subsidies and reimbursement rates for our hospitals, treatment centers and nursing homes. Our families need full access to these services. I’ve had numerous conversations with community stakeholders, and this is a top priority. I will work with Governor Hochul to make sure these experiences are heard and push for a solution to the reimbursement gap.

Overall, I was pleased with the Governor’s commitment to progressive, but commonsense policies that are geared towards benefitting New York families, workers, and the betterment of our state, with an emphasis on an economy that is welcoming to new industries and opportunities. The Governor’s decision to again present the State of the State address in the Assembly Chambers – the peoples’ house – is symbolic to who we are as New Yorkers and our role in representing the voices and needs of our many unique districts. What unifies us all, however, is that New Yorkers have always been leaders in labor, civil and equal rights, as well as economic endeavors that propel our country forward into the future. I am proud to be part of this tradition and will continue to work for increased inclusivity and equity across all sectors of our State. I strongly believe everything we do must be looked at through a social, economic and racial justice lens with a focus to how it affects our workforce and families. This State of the State set a hopeful tone for a year of challenges that we will overcome together and come out stronger as a more progressive, innovative state in the end.