By Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)
Preliminary studies reveal that New York is positioned to lose two seats in the House of Representatives when Census 2010 is complete. House of Representative seats are based on population. There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives and each district has roughly 650,000 constituents. Experts earlier predicted New York would lose one seat, but as time has progressed, two is more likely, according to a study performed by Election Data Services.
The study predicts that overall, 12 congressional seats affecting 18 states would change hands with the new apportionments. Six states—Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington—would each gain a single seat. Florida would gain two seats and Texas would gain four if the House of Representatives were reapportioned with current population estimates. A final reapportionment number from Census 2010 will be determined in December and delivered to the president. By April, the reapportionment process will begin and it will take effect two years after that. If this is the case, New York’s total house seats would drop from 29 to 27.
There are many reasons why New York’s population growth has not kept pace with much of the nation. Most experts agree that the government policies which have been coming out of Albany over the last several years are a strong contributing factor in our outward population migration. Throughout history, population migrations have followed economic opportunity. Unfortunately, in New York we have not provided a climate where economic opportunity has flourished to the extent it has in other parts of the country. A study performed by the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center for New York State Policy reveals New York suffered the largest job loss of any state from 1993 to 2007. Indeed, the “New York Post” reported last week that New York-based firms picked up and moved at least 407,558 jobs to other states from 1993 to 2007. Meanwhile, firms moving into New York from other states brought just 259,090 jobs with them. Measured as a percentage of total jobs at the start of the period, New York’s net out-migration of 148,508 jobs was the biggest loss of any state. The industry sectors with the most net migration losses were management and public relations, down almost 10,000 jobs, and securities brokers and dealers, down more than 9,000, according to the article.
It is disturbing to see these numbers but, frankly, I’m not surprised. We have all heard from businesses—from entrepreneurs to manufacturers—that the cost of doing business in this state is crippling. How many times have you heard comments such as this — “I love this state. This is where I grew up, but I can’t stay here and make a profit.” It’s simple: Businesses need to make a profit to survive and hire more workers and if they’re made to relinquish profits to unfair taxes and fees, they will leave. They have proven so.
This news of the House seats should be a stark reminder to all of us that we need to make changes or risk falling even further behind in population growth. Let’s start by lowering property taxes. New York and New Jersey pay the highest property taxes in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. In upstate New York, whatever advantages we have as a result of a lower cost of living and lower real estate values are quickly eaten up by our high property taxes. On numerous occasions, I have heard from employers who have told me that they have missed opportunities to bring employees to the region due to the candidate’s resistance to move to such a high tax area.
November elections are almost upon us. Elections have consequences and all New York voters should make sure they understand the positions of the candidates. If we don’t change the way we do business in New York and if we do not vote to change the status quo, New York can look forward to continued population stagnation and the continued loss of congressional representation.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.