New York governor to outline agenda ahead of crucial House elections

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will outline her agenda in a State of the State address on Tuesday, with the Democrat expected to focus on housing, crime and education policies ahead of a pivotal election season in a state whose races could determine control of Congress.

The annual speech is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the state Capitol in Albany and will detail the governor’s priorities for the nascent legislative session.

Hochul has spent the last week debuting pillars of her agenda, calling for an overhaul of literacy education and paid medical leave during pregnancy, among other things. She has also previously teased action to increase the housing supply, make the state more affordable and an initiative to combat retail theft.

The address will come as both Republicans and Democrats place increased attention on New York as a potential battleground state for the U.S. House in November, adding a level of national importance to the governor’s agenda this year.

For Hochul, a major priority appears to be reaching a deal with progressive statehouse Democrats to create more housing supply in the state, a politically vexing problem that has previously proven elusive but remains a tenant of her affordability plans.

The governor last year pushed hard on a housing plan that eventually failed after it was panned in the city’s suburbs, which have emerged as must-win areas for congressional Democrats in the fall if they want to retake control of the House. It is unclear what legislative tack Hochul plans to take this year on housing.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told reporters that Senate Democrats were pushing for a housing package that focuses on tenant protection. In the past, those have included measures to prevent landlords from evicting residents without a so-called good cause, such as failure to pay rent.

Another issue for lawmakers this year will be how they handle a large influx of migrants into the state, particularly New York City, since 2022. So far, the state has allocated $1.9 billion in emergency spending related to the surge of asylum seekers, according to recent data from the Office of the State Comptroller. Hochul has pledged another round of financial assistance this year to help the city house, transport and provide medical care to migrants.

The legislative session also will include a contentious congressional redistricting process that could have a major impact on which party controls the House.

A bipartisan redistricting commission will submit a proposed map to lawmakers at the end of February, which can then be accepted or altered by Democrats who control the Legislature. Democrats are widely expected to try to give their party an advantage in crucial districts ahead of the fall elections.

Democrats have dedicated major financial and campaign resources toward their goal of retaking a handful of congressional districts in New York in November. Republicans are aiming to hold onto the seats. The first bellwether could come soon: A special election of a successor to George Santos, the New York Republican who was expelled from the House, will be held on Feb. 13.

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