Despite national economic success, including historically low unemployment, rising wages, and record numbers of people in the workforce, New York state remains stagnant.
Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo wrongly blames “the federal government” for these ills. In his inaugural address he blasted the discontinuation of state and local tax (SALT) deductions on his heavily taxed constituents as the culprit of a $2 billion shortfall in revenue to Albany.
This is a lazy way of deflecting blame, and Cuomo didn’t help himself by going to the White House, hat in hand, seeking a reversal of the SALT deductions.
No doubt the SALT provisions hurt, but Cuomo ignores the reality that high taxes and an unfriendly business climate are behind the mass exodus of people from his state.
Last year, 190,000 New Yorkers fled to other states. Since 2010, a net one million New Yorkers have left. Once-booming Upstate cities like Buffalo, Rochester and Binghamton lead the state’s population loss. Rural areas are not faring any better. And New York is poised to lose multiple Congressional seats in the coming redistricting. The state’s influence on the federal government is waning.
Cuomo’s reaction to this news has been downright insulting. Instead of taking responsibility, Cuomo blamed it on the weather last year, saying people are leaving for “climate-based” reasons. The 38,903 new citizens of Massachusetts didn’t seem to mind the cold. Neighboring Vermont saw the highest percentage of inbound moves of any state in 2018, despite its chilly winters.
Gov. Cuomo favors New York City over the rest of the state. He lobbied heavily for Amazon to bring its 25,000 jobs and billions in investments to Queens, not Syracuse. In fact, 79 percent of New York’s private sector jobs were created near New York City. Upstate job growth was a “paltry” .03 percent since 2016, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It is truly “a tale of two New Yorks,” as some are labeling it.
Upstate New Yorkers are familiar with Cuomo’s inept economic development schemes and focus on New York City, but there’s more to this story.
Upstate New York is blessed with plentiful shale reserves. Safe, proven techniques can extract these reserves and create jobs for economically depressed areas of New York. Those who live along the Pennsylvania border have seen their neighbor’s economic growth: land is more valuable, there are jobs and business opportunities, and utilities are half the cost.
But Cuomo ignored the potential for new jobs and banned hydraulic fracking in 2014. He fully-embraced the environmentalist agenda and last month pledged “100 percent” carbon-free energy by 2040, despite similar policies doubling monthly electric bills in other states.
As Cuomo pleaded for reinstating SALT, President Trump excoriated him for the fracking ban. Growing the economy is crucial to raising tax revenue. But such a bold step is not in Cuomo’s DNA, and instead, he chose to jump on the bandwagon and support the Green New Deal.
Gov. Cuomo’s indifference to Upstate New York reflects a larger problem Democrats, including those running for the 2020 nomination, have with rural America. Policies like the Green New Deal show little regard for farmers, manufacturers, and especially the millions of energy workers.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., recently reiterated his plan to ban fracking if elected president. The socialist ignores the millions of jobs and billions in tax revenue fracking has created. Voters in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania will take note.
Reversing the fracking ban would bring jobs, increased tax revenue, increased land value, and economic opportunity to millions of New Yorkers. But Gov. Cuomo has instead chosen to favor liberal causes like climate change over the needs of the people. His radical abortion legislation, his hostility toward gun rights, and his preferential treatment of illegal immigrants, are further indication that rural America, and rural American values, are unwelcome in his administration.
Gov. Cuomo has at least four more years to right these wrongs. With a fracking boom at his fingertips, it’s time for Cuomo to show some bravery and leadership. Hopefully, he acts while there are still people left in the state.