If the goal of a new online survey and roundtable discussions proposed by state Sen. Jim Tedisco and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara is to find out why so many people are leaving New York state, then they’re wasting everyone’s time.
It’s pretty obvious why they’re leaving. Part of it depends on where in the state you live. But the top few reasons are likely to be fairly universal among New Yorkers:
High cost of living and high cost of doing business. High taxes. Overrregulation. The school system. A lack of worthwhile job opportunities where they live. For those who live in the suburbs and work in the state’s big cities, it’s the commute, the congestion, the noise and the dirt. And there’s the crappy winter weather. If the survey turns up much different results, we’ll be surprised.
And if the roundtable discussions the representatives plan to hold around the state add anything more than anecdotal support to those reasons or yield generic solutions that don’t all center around lowering taxes, reducing regulation, creating more jobs, improving the schools and making it be 80 degrees in February, we’ll also be surprised.
Sen. Tedisco knows that. Assemblyman Santabarbara knows that. Everyone in the Legislature knows that. Gov. Andrew Cuomo knows that. Every public official running for office would find that out just by talking to their own constituents.
The problem with New Yorkers leaving the state isn’t that we don’t know why they’re leaving. The problem is lack of urgency on the part of our elected officials to put solutions into place.
Every year, we get basically the same old state government. More spending for this and that. More pie-in-the-sky economic development solutions. More of the same New York that people abandon more than any other place in the country.
If we know what the problems are, why aren’t we fixing them? Because everyone in government is focused on doing their own thing and keeping their own piece of the pie and trying to get more of what they want.
Everybody’s doing a lot, including the governor and Legislature. But they’re not directly addressing solutions to keep New Yorkers from leaving.
So in that way, what Sen. Tedisco and Assemblyman Santabarbara are doing with this exercise is what needs to be done, which is putting the focus where it belongs — getting citizens and their elected officials to train their attention on what makes people leave the state.
The solutions might come from beleaguered New Yorkers. But they also might come from other states. Not all high-tax, cold-weather states are bleeding population. What are they doing right? What can we do that they’re doing that might help? Go ask the wealthy people and the middle class former New Yorkers in Florida or North Carolina what it would take to get them back, besides a miracle.
Hold hearings on that. Then put those solutions into place.
By placing the focus on this question, instead on everything else except this question, we might finally get change in New York.
We can’t do anything about the weather. But we can make the state a place people want to live again. It’s time to focus on that.