HUDSON — An area lawmaker introduced legislation this week that would examine the effects of separating upstate and downstate New York into two distinct states.
State Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-43, introduced a bill Tuesday to establish a working group within the Office of the State Comptroller to study the process and ramifications of dividing update and downstate New York into two separate entities. Jordan represents parts of Saratoga, Rensselaer and Washington counties and all of Columbia County in the state’s 43rd Senate District.
Jordan defines upstate as the area north of Westchester and Rockland counties, Long Island and New York City.
Twin County residents are split on the issue.
“This is a transparent Republican scam,” Hudson resident Peter Jung said. “They are constantly losing elections in New York state, so they want to eliminate the most progressive pool of voters.”
Round Top resident Jeri Landron is concerned about what the impact of a split would mean economically.
“Upstate will collapse even lower without New York City income,” Landron said.
Hudson resident Joseph O’Connell suggested separating at least New York City into a district similar to Washington, D.C., and referring to upstate as the State of New York.
Cairo resident Jacquie Sanson is in favor of the split.
“I’m in Greene County and have watched the deterioration of what was once a thriving and beautiful community,” Sanson said. “Loss of manufacturing due to ridiculous regulations and taxation have left us either scrambling to move out of state, or struggle trying to survive with enormous tax burdens, a housing market that’s dead, building and trades suffering.”
August Freeman, of Cairo, also supports the downstate-upstate divide.
“Our lifestyle, needs and wishes are just too far removed from downstate,” Freeman said. “Rural, suburban life is not compatible with urban. We understand financially, upstate would need to rethink what we do and how, but we don’t want all the programs and costs we have now, so it can be done.”
“Whether it’s the issue of gun control, the DREAM Act, taxes and spending, parity in schools, infrastructure funding or the choice for governor, the deepening divide — cultural, economic and political — between upstate and downstate has grown more pronounced every year,” Jordan said in a statement. “Many are asking whether both regions would be better off as separate entities.”
In the bill’s memo, Jordan cited upstate and downstate’s extremely divergent political and social views as a reason for the regions to part ways.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office scoffed at the idea.
“There is pandering and then there is the Godzilla of pandering,” Cuomo’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi said Friday in an emailed statement. “This divisive and unserious press release isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.”
Splitting the regions could cause upstaters to see large loss of state revenue without the downstate residents, who contribute to more than two-thirds of the state’s collected income tax.
“The reality is that 70 percent of the income tax that the state collects happens to come from Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk and New York City,” state Budget Director Robert Mujica said in a radio interview with The Capitol Pressroom in January 2018.
State Sen. George Amedore, R-46, Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106, and Assemblyman Jake Ashby, R-107, did not return requests for comment Friday.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to email@example.com, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.