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Editorial: State must address exodus

Editorial: State must address exodus

New York's government needs to do significantly more than it has been doing.

Try this. Add up all the people who live in the cities of Albany (98,400), Schenectady (65,900) and Saratoga Springs (27,000).

Got it? Now, make them disappear.

That should give you a pretty good sense of about how many people left New York from July 2015 to July 2016 in order to go live in some other state, and it should give you a sense of how urgent it is that conditions be improved for those left behind.

That's 191,300 people in one year. Since 2007, the total number of residents leaving is nearly 847,000. In a year, it will likely top 1 million.

Overall, New York's population is down, but only about 1,900 people. That's due to more foreigners moving in and to more people being born than dying.

It's the not the overall state population that's an issue. It's the mass population exodus of existing residents, who are walking out of New York with their work skills, their intellectual contributions, their buying power and their tax money. Newer immigrants coming in tend to fi ll the lower-paying jobs that don't produce as much tax revenue or spending power.

In addition, as we move down the state population charts, we lose representation in Congress

With less clout in the federal government, our state's ability to secure federal aid and other benefits from Washington is weakened.

If you're Gov. Andrew Cuomo or a member of the state Legislature, that statistic should be your sole focus when trying to figure out how best to serve the people before even more of them join the parade.

There are any number of reasons why people continue to abandon New York in such large numbers. Sure, it might have something to do with the weather. But our weather isn't so extreme. And other states with long winters like Maine, New Hampshire, and North and South Dakota all saw their populations increase.

But more likely, our high taxes and regulation — and people’s inability to find well-paying jobs particularly upstate — are the real culprit.

New York state residents continue to be among the highest taxed residents in the country, despite the fact that corporate, manufacturing and personal income taxes have declined modestly over the last few years under Gov. Cuomo. That's progress.

The bad news is that property taxes — including school taxes, generally the largest part of our tax bills — have continued their steady rise, according to Politifact (even with the tax cap).

And while lawmakers and the governor have limited the growth of state spending, the state budget continues to increase, and with it, the need to collect taxes to support it.

New York has been modestly successful in attracting new business, largely through tax incentives and other gimmicky programs like Start-up New York. But other states like Florida and Utah (yes, Utah) offer businesses far less regulation and red tape to deal with, along with much lower taxes, giving outside companies little reason to move here and more reason for existing businesses to leave.

Anti-business initiatives like the $15 minimum wage and strict environmental regulations like the ban on hydrofracking are other impediments to business growth.

When the jobs leave, so do the people who fi ll those jobs. Those left behind put more stress on the state's social programs, forcing the state to keep taxes high to pay for the programs, which makes the exit turnstiles spin faster.

New York's government needs to do significantly more than it has been to reduce taxes and overregulation. Otherwise, the situation for the remaining New Yorkers will become even more dire — and give more people even more reason to leave.

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