Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
I love New York State.
Our diverse natural resources offer opportunities that not many other states can compete with.
We have the beautiful mountains of the Adirondacks and Catskills.
We have access to the Atlantic Ocean, Niagara Falls, two Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River and the beautiful Finger Lakes.
We have the rolling hills of the southern tier, the scenic views of the Hudson River and the beaches of Long Island.
Mixed with our natural resources, we have New York City, which one could argue is the premier metropolitan area of the world along with the smaller cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany that offer the same cultural and entertainment opportunities as bigger cities, but in a more manageable setting.
We have high performing schools, an infrastructure that, for the most part, allows ease of travel throughout the state and a multitude of recreational and cultural activities regardless of the season.
So against this backdrop, why is New York State losing population?
With all that the state has to offer, one might think we would be attracting people.
Sadly, that is not the case.
In 2018, New York State was the number one state in the country in outward migration and unfortunately, 2018 was not an outlier.
From 2010 to 2017, New York also lead the nation in outward migration followed by Illinois, California, New Jersey and Michigan.
Some have argued, including the Governor, that our state’s outward migration is due to the weather.
Certainly, some people have left our state for warmer climates but can weather alone explain why nearly 1 million people have left New York State since 2010?
Probably not – if climate alone was the cause, California would not be one of the nation’s top outward migration states and New Hampshire, with a similar climate as New York, would not be an inward migration state.
Likely there are other factors at stake.
The American Enterprise Institute conducted a study comparing economic policies of the 10 states with the highest outward migration versus the economic policies of the 10 states with the highest inward migration.
Not surprisingly, states with high outward migration were states that lead the nation in high taxes, an unfriendly business climate, and weak economic health.
States with high inward migration (e.g., Florida, Texas, Arizona), are states with lower taxes, that are more friendly to business, and are economically strong.
The American Enterprise Institute study used a state’s business tax climate ranking as one comparison measure.
A state’s business tax climate index is based on each state’s corporate income taxes, individual income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and unemployment insurance taxes.
In this comparison, five of the top 10 outbound states (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana and California) were among the seven states with the worst business tax climate.
Specifically, New York, California and New Jersey ranked as the three worst states in terms of business tax climate.
In contrast, for the top 10 inbound states, five of those states (Nevada, Oregon, New Hampshire, Montana and Florida) ranked among the top nine US states for business tax climate.
Clearly, regardless of the many wonderful attributes a state can offer its citizens, economic opportunity looms large as a deciding factor as to where people live.
Unlike climate, which states cannot control, state policies do have a huge impact on economic opportunity.
Unfortunately for New York, over the last decade, Albany has done little to implement policies that foster growth.
In fact, with continued tax and fee increases, additional mandates on businesses, and an overall hostility to economic engines, we have gone in the opposite direction.
Unless it is recognized in Albany that people and businesses “vote with their feet” and will seek out state’s with better opportunities, our state will continue to lead the nation in outward migration despite all of our state’s wonderful attributes.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.
You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.