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What can be done to make Upstate New York more affordable? Advocates say it starts with taxes

New Yorkers are voting with their feet, and they’re leaving to go to other states. That’s according to Justin Wilcox, Executive Director of Upstate United.

“It’s alarming,” Wilcox said. “And I think it necessitates immediate action in Albany to try and turn things around. We didn’t get here overnight. We went from having 45 members in the House of Representatives. We are down to 26. We have been on a long, slow decline. Some of that is directly related to the policies that make it very difficult for New York State employers and employees to stay here.”  

Upstate United is a 17-year old not-for-profit advocacy organization that promotes lower taxes and pro-growth policies out of Albany. 

“What is surprising is that over the past two years, we’ve not just seen a loss in Upstate population, but we’ve seen an overall loss in New York State,” he said. “We are down over a half-million people and that’s significant. As the Governor said, that’s an alarm bell that can not be ignored. And she said that a year ago.”


Related: New York lost 180,000+ residents in 2022: More than a half-million have left in two years


Wilcox believes there is a lack of understanding from lawmakers about the differences between the way the economy works Upstate v. how it works in the tri-state area.

So what can be done to make our area more affordable?

“We need to reduce mandates and we need to reduce taxes,” Wilcox said. “Governor Hochul was born in Upstate New York and lives in New York. She understands the challenges we face. But for the Governor, the difficulty is going to be trying to find a way to work with the legislature to ensure that the policies coming out of Albany don’t disproportionately impact Upstate NY in a negative way.”

Wilcox stressed there are bills that exempt cities with a population of more than 1 million people from particular policies. “I think it’s time that we take a look at exempting Upstate NY from some of the policies,” he added.



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