State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a major opponent of Hochul's cuts to Health Homes, speaks at a rally for health workers on April 17, 2023. NYS Senate Media Services
Hochul's proposed Medicaid cuts include $125 million from Health Homes, a program that connects the neediest New Yorkers with medical care, food assistance, and more.
By Eliza Fawcett

Five years ago, Kristen Shelley was living in “crisis mode.” Her seven-year-old son, Kaysen, had been expelled from first grade. He was “hitting, biting, not on meds, not stable,” she said. While she struggled to find him mental health care in Schenectady, he cycled through hospitalizations.

“I could never, ever let my guard down,” Shelley, 51, told New York Focus.

A sliver of hope emerged when her family enrolled in Medicaid Health Homes, a care management program that serves more than 170,000 New Yorkers with complex health conditions and mental health needs. For Shelley, that meant a care manager who found Kaysen a new school and helped manage his behavioral health care. The program became a stabilizing force in their lives, she said.

Governor Kathy Hochul visits a classroom in New York City on July 25, 2022. Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
One in five kids in New York live in poverty. Legislators are pushing Hochul to fulfill her promise to cut that rate in half.
By Julia Rock

One hundred days into her tenure, New York’s self-described “first mom governor” signed a law committing to slash the state’s child poverty rate by half. She had inherited a serious problem: In the decade leading up to Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2021 inauguration, more than seven hundred thousand children in New York, or about one in five, had been living in poverty — including nearly one in three Black and Latino children.

“Alleviating poverty for all New Yorkers — especially our youngest — is a key priority for my administration,” Hochul said the following year.

The state still has a long way to go. New York has the fifth-highest rate of child poverty in the nation, according to the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, or OTDA. Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse are in the top 10 US cities for child poverty, with more than 40 percent of kids living below the poverty line. By an estimate OTDA has used, the policies enacted since 2021 may only reduce child poverty by 7.6 percent by 2031.


For many people in prison in New York, addiction treatment is out of reach. Between facilities and between racial groups, disparities in treatment access persist. Drug policy reporter Spencer Norris shared the story with Radio Catskill. 

In New York, there aren’t enough wires to move new clean energy from the remote areas where most solar and wind farms are built to the population centers where the most energy gets used. New York Power Authority
The Assembly and Senate want to beef up labor standards and farmland protections for clean energy projects. Developers say that would slow down the energy transition.
By Colin Kinniburgh

It has become almost a cliche to say that New York is behind on building renewable energy. One factor? There aren’t enough wires to move new clean energy from the remote areas where most solar and wind farms are built to the population centers where the most energy gets used. And New York, like much of the country, is painfully overdue to string up more of those wires.

The state office that reviews wind and solar farms, the Office of Renewable Energy Siting, or ORES, doesn’t currently issue permits for transmission lines. Now, Governor Kathy Hochul wants to speed up the process by turning it into a “one stop-shop.”

Her proposed RAPID Act would task ORES with permitting transmission projects alongside wind and solar farms. Crucially, it would require the agency to approve or deny any clean energy permits that come before it within one year — including transmission lines, which currently take an average of two years to permit.

“It’s probably the biggest thing that the state can do on its own” to get more renewables plugged into the grid, said Patrick McClellan, policy director at the New York League of Conservation Voters.

Last week, we visited Syracuse as the last visit on our community listening tour. In partnership with Central Current, we hosted a conversation about local news and community issues in Syracuse. 

Central Current is a nonprofit news organization founded in 2020 covering local government, criminal justice and current events in Syracuse. 


Copyright © New York Focus 2023, All rights reserved.
Staying Focused is compiled and written by Alex Arriaga
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