State Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, has proposed legislation that would form a working group to study whether upstate and downstate should be split into two separate entities.
The legislation, which Jordan introduced on Tuesday, would study the short- and long-term economic ramifications, including economic opportunities, of splitting the state.
It would also examine the legal ramifications of dividing the state into two parts and would determine the cost of doing so, such as creating two new state governments.
Jordan's bill uses a definition of “downstate” as Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties, as well as New York City.
Jordan's bill argues that the distinctions between upstate and downstate New York have become so pronounced that it is crucial to at least investigate how the two areas of the state "parting ways" would work.
"Whether it’s the issue of gun control, the DREAM Act, taxes and spending, parity in school or infrastructure funding, or even the choice for governor, the deepening divide – cultural, economic and political – between upstate and downstate has grown more pronounced every year. Many are asking whether both regions would be better off as separate entities. My legislation would help answer this by creating a working group that would study — and I emphasize study — the short and long-term economic ramifications, including economic opportunities, of splitting the state. The bill I sponsor is a step toward establishing a long-needed study to help answer these important questions,” Jordan said in a statement released on Tuesday.
While the bill lists the cost of the study as "minimal," no actual dollar amount is listed.
Members of the committee would be the state comptroller, or a designee, two more members appointed by the comptroller, the attorney general or a designee, two more members appointed by the attorney general, three members appointed by the governor, one member appointed by the speaker of thestate Assembly, one member appointed by the president of the Senate, one member each appointed by the Assembly minority leader and Senate minority leader, and two members appointed by the New York State Association of Counties.
At the study's conclusion, a report would be delivered to the governor, the speaker of the Assembly, the Senate president, the Assembly minority leader, the Senate minority leader, and the state comptroller.
While Jordan's proposed legislation is the first to seek a study of dividing the state, other Republicans have considered the issue.
State Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Rochester, and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, R-Batavia, are sponsoring legislation for a non-binding referendum to gauge public support for the separation of upstate and downstate into two separate states.
In an opinion piece published by The Daily Gazette last week, state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, argued that upstate residents and downstate residents have been living separate lives for years, and that the question of remaining one state should be put to voters.
"Unfortunately, upstate New York has been an afterthought of the downstate political establishment for a long time. We are like a 'flyover state' to them," Tedisco wrote.