Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke to New York state business leaders Friday about securing employment for asylum seekers, alluring businesses to New York and tackling large budget deficits in the years ahead.
Hochul addressed the Business Council of New York State at the group’s annual retreat in Bolton Landing on Lake George. It features meetings focused on issues impacting business in the state over the next decade or more.
Dedicating much of the beginning of her remarks to the handling of an influx of migrants arriving in New York City, Hochul talked about her meeting with the White House during a trip to Washington, D.C. last month.
"Now we pressed hard,” Hochul said. “I went to Washington, had a very, I would say, loud meeting with the White House back three weeks ago and just explained that this is unsustainable. 'We need help, you need to make this change right now.'”
The governor said President Joe Biden told her his administration heard her pleas before announcing Temporary Protective Status and expediting work permits for Venezuelans already in the country. About 41% of asylum seekers who have arrived in New York City are from Venezuela.
Hochul spoke to the White House on Friday morning about getting work going on the process. The state Department of Labor will work with businesses to match skills migrants have with available jobs.
“We’re anticipating by November, if this is done right, we should have a large number of individuals,” Hochul said. “If you want to bring in people and help them through the process and sort of adopt them early, you can get first dibs on them, because these are hard working people.”
The governor also talked about luring Micron to New York and major investments by tech companies over the last year.
“This means there’s people who have confidence,” Hochul said. “You don’t invest that kind of money as a national organization, where you could be anywhere if you don’t feel confident about the environment that you’re going to find.”
The governor said she wants to support business already in the state by not raising taxes as the state faces a tough fiscal outlook. The state is facing $36 billion in budget gaps over the next three years due to declining tax revenue.
“Sometimes, you have to judge me by what I keep out of the budget and there was a lot of effort to encourage us to raise taxes and to spend down our reserves that I was working so hard to build up, and I resisted,” Hochul said. “I'm not always the most popular person walking the halls in Albany, but that's alright. I need to be the person who can say 'no.'”
The state currently has about $19.5 billion in reserves, built up over the last five years.
“Because when that rainy day comes, I don't want to have to be in a positiion to raise taxes or cut services dramatically," the governor added. "So we are in a good place.”
State agencies were told Thursday to keep budget requests for next year at the same levels approved in this year’s budget. They’re preparing budget requests due Oct. 11.
“We cannot keep investing at the rate we did over the last two years, I had to make up for a lot of lost time,” Hochul said. “So everybody keep it steady, let's be able to weather the storms.”
Hochul concluded her remarks by giving a preview of her legislative priorities when the Legislature returns to Albany in January.
Addressing housing is her top priority after failing to come to an agreement with lawmakers on her proposal to build 800,000 new units over the next decade. Hochul also said she wants to continue investing in mental health after including a $1 billion plan in this year's budget.