Governor Hochul delivered her State of the State message to the Legislature last week. Now we wait and see how she plans to pay for it. Those answers start to arrive later this month when she unveils her proposed 2023-2024 state budget.\n\nMy initial reaction to the governor\u2019s broad outline of her priorities for New York\u2019s future is this: Governor Hochul highlighted the affordability crisis facing all New Yorkers, but every agenda item she spoke of will only make New York a more expensive place to live and do business. She appears intent on spending every last taxpayer dime, and then some. New York State remains one of America\u2019s highest-taxed, least affordable, most debt-ridden and overregulated states, and we\u2019re leading the nation in population loss. It is mind-boggling how Governor Hochul and legislative Democrats can boast about higher and higher state government spending.\n\nOne highlight of her address I do applaud is her commitment to improving New York\u2019s woeful mental health care system. Unfortunately, she only commits to one half of one percent of the state budget to restoring mental health beds statewide. This meager allocation of state resources \u2013 one half of one percent -- won\u2019t even make up for the bed closures that ex-Governor Cuomo forced over the last decade in our state mental health facilities. Mental health care is a significant need for far too many New Yorker with its consequences of homelessness, addiction, and crime. This effort deserves a far greater commitment.\n\nThe day before Governor Hochul delivered her message, our Senate Republican conference proposed a plan called \u201cRescue New York.\u201d We have offered a broad range of policies focusing on public safety and security, mental health care, economic growth and job creation, tax relief and regulatory reform, and affordability initiatives to try to reverse New York\u2019s distressing outmigration.\n\nAlbany Democrats readily acknowledge the affordability crisis causing the exodus of citizens to more affordable states, however the Democrats can\u2019t give up increasing handouts to their base. We need to rescue New York by restoring the right priorities, rebuilding stronger and safer communities, and working toward a more responsible and sustainable future for middle-class communities, families, workers, businesses, industries, and taxpayers. In short, the \u201cRescue New York\u201d agenda is a comprehensive plan to do just that. Among many initiatives, the plan focuses on: Restoring common sense to our criminal justice system; Increasing efforts to confront the opioid and fentanyl crisis; Expanding economic opportunities; Cutting New York\u2019s highest-in-the-nation tax burden and controlling state government spending; Improving New York\u2019s worst-inthe- nation business climate; Enacting energy policies that are affordable, reliable, and sustainable; Addressing the burgeoning Unemployment Insurance crisis; and Confronting long-neglected obstacles to local economic growth and tax relief.\n\nI\u2019ll be working with legislative colleagues across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, together with local leaders and concerned citizens, to keep attention focused on the goals and priorities we share for stronger and safer communities.\n\nAs noted at the outset, the next key benchmark arrives later this month when Governor Hochul begins rolling out her 2023-2024 proposed state budget. I was recently reappointed as the Ranking Republican member on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the Legislature\u2019s annual budget adoption process. I hope to utilize this post to at least give a voice to the challenges and crises facing our region and all of Upstate New York.\n\nYou can find more details on the Rescue New York agenda \u2013 as well as information and updates on other state government news and actions throughout the 2023 legislative session \u2013 on my Senate website, www.omara.nysenate.gov.