EDITORIAL: GOP’s exodus plan a good starting point

State Capitol Building in Albany.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
State Capitol Building in Albany.

Finding ways to keep New Yorkers from leaving the state should be a priority of both political parties.

A Republican plan introduced earlier this week to stop the exodus has some good ideas that could serve as the framework for a bipartisan effort.

Last month, the Census Bureau reported that New York for the second year in a row led the nation in the number of residents leaving for other states.

That has many people legitimately worried about the future of the state’s economy, how it will be able to afford existing government services, and the impact of the departures on the lives of those who remain.

Hence comes the need for a plan.

Republicans in state government at least are offering the beginnings of one that should serve as the jumping-off point for further discussion and planning.

Some of the reforms are pandemic-related, like cutting unemployment insurance tax rates and using federal pandemic relief to replenish the unemployment insurance fund.

Others are traditional broad suggestions, like cutting unfunded mandates and reducing government regulation and red tape. As with anything, the devil is in the details.

For this plan to work, both Republicans and Democrats need to identify specific mandates that are costing local governments unnecessarily and driving up local tax rates, then debate which ones can go and which have to stay. Both sides need to identify which government regulations in which areas should be cut and they have to develop a plan for reducing the bureaucracy.

We’ve long called for reforming the state’s economic development programs, as suggested in the Republicans’ stop-the-exodus effort. What, exactly, is the Republicans’ plan for doing that?

Other ideas have merit, such as capping state spending and requiring a 2/3 vote of the Legislature for any tax increase. The property tax cap on local governments and school districts has been very effective in reining in tax increases. Why not apply it to the state government?

Other parts of the GOP plan that recommend expanding the middle-class tax cut, suspending the gas tax temporarily, expanding the Empire State Child Tax Credit and dependent care credit, helping employers pay for childhood education and care, and providing $300 million in energy tax relief all will have to be paid for somehow – either by raising taxes or cutting other spending.

One problem with developing a plan is that the reasons behind the population losses aren’t easy to define. It would be easy to blame the state’s high taxes and bad weather. But similar states haven’t experienced the same population declines. And not all parts of the state lost population, so some solutions will have to be targeted to specific areas.

Both parties should start there – identifying the reasons for the departures.

Then use the GOP plan as a framework for future bipartisan discussions.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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