Study may confirm NY split is bad idea
Once again there’s talk of divorcing upstate New York from the New York City area and Long Island.
The upstate-downstate divide is nothing new, but it seemed to get wider when the state Legislature began passing a raft of progressive-backed legislation that irked many people in the more rural, conservative areas of the state.
In our unscientific online poll last week, more than 59 percent of the votes went for dividing New York into two states, upstate and downstate. More than 37 percent voted against such a split, and 3 percent were undecided.
Recently, state Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, proposed legislation that would make the comptroller’s office create a commission to study the issue and present a report to the governor and legislative leaders.
Our area’s state senator, Betty Little, is also a Republican and hails from Queensbury, just up the Northway from Jordan’s hometown. She doesn’t think an upstate-downstate breakup makes sense. She says New York City’s Wall Street financial markets are still the state’s “economic engine,” and their taxes pay for much of the state’s services.
Nevertheless, she isn’t opposed to the study Jordan proposed. It might “settle the issue one way or the other,” she told the Post-Star newspaper.
There’s something to that.
It seems unlikely that upstate New York would be better off financially without the tax revenue it gets from New York City. Shaking off city-centric regulations might not outweigh having to either slash public services or raise taxes.
But if the report can be done cheaply, it may be useful in the short term. Even if decision-makers know splitting the state makes little sense financially, many of the statistics and figures that go into making those decisions aren’t widely known to the public. People who advocate for upstate forming its own state should know what the likely tax burden would be, exactly what the benefits are to having New York City as part of the state and what the process is to split the state.
Some people will never have their mind changed on an upstate secession no matter the information they are given. For those with an open mind, however, Jordan’s proposed study would at least provide more information on a topic that is likely never going to go away.