A headline in one of last month’s USA Today newspapers read: Leaving New York: Population loss steepest in United States. The article outlined the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau.
New York State lost an estimated 48,510 residents over a twelve-month period. New York was one of only nine states with a decreasing population.
Since 2010, close to 1 million residents have exited New York. In fact, 42 of the 50 Upstate counties have seen a population decrease since the 2010 census.
These facts and figures reinforce a disturbing trend that is too familiar to all of us in Upstate New York. Everyone knows friends, neighbors, and family members– parents, children, aunts and uncles– that have moved out of New York State.
It’s just not affordable to raise a family here, and many families have been forced to move to less costly states. The high cost of living has forced many seniors to take their hard-earned dollars elsewhere and spend their retirement in other states. Thousands of our youth have graduated from local high schools across Western New York, then left New York to never return again.
The Tax Foundation– the nation’s leading independent tax policy nonprofit– places New York among the top 10 worst states, ranking 48th in individual taxes, 47th for property taxes and 42nd for sales taxes. Overall, New York is third-worst for tax climate.
This outmigration of almost 1 million residents shifts an even greater tax burden to the remaining New York State residents. Now, the high tax burden gets divided by fewer taxpayers, forcing all of us to pay more and more.
Upstate New Yorkers are being forced by high taxes, as well as a lack of jobs and economic development, out of New York. This mass exodus of New York residents will not end until these issues are addressed.
For the first time in a decade, New York City Democrats will control all three branches of state government. Despite promises to pass many legislative initiatives, I am deeply disappointed that there hasn’t been any real discussion about how to address Upstate New York’s population decline and economic challenges.
Throughout the 2019-2020 Legislative Session, as bills come to the Senate floor for debate and discussion, I will be asking many questions. Will this legislation help keep more residents in New York or make the outmigration of worse? Will this proposal help or hurt Upstate’s economy?
Until we start answering these important questions about legislation, Upstate New Yorkers will only be forced, by high taxes and lack of job opportunities, to continue voting with their feet and moving out of state.