A New York lawmaker has proposed legislation to explore how much it would cost to split New York into two states.
The bill, introduced by Republican state Sen. Daphne Jordan on Feb. 15, would create a 15-member working group to examine the effects of separating the New York City metro area–including Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties–from the rest of the state.
Numerous lawmakers have proposed a division between upstate New York and the far more left-leaning New York City area. Jordan’s bill, which still needs an Assembly sponsor, aims to determine whether the idea, which would have to be approved by Congress, is economically feasible.
“Whether it’s the issue of gun control, the DREAM Act, taxes and spending, parity in school or infrastructure spending, or even the choice for governor, the deepening divide–cultural, economic and political–between upstate and downstate has grown more pronounced ever year,” Jordan said in a press release. “Many are asking whether both regions would be better off as separate entities.”
The political divide was evident in the 2018 gubernatorial election. Gov. Andrew Cuomo won even though he only carried 13 counties –including all the counties that Jordan considers to be downstate New York–while his Republican opponent Marc Molinaro won 49 counties, according to The Post Star.
Nearly two-thirds of the state’s Senate districts are located downstate. All but two of them are led by Democrats, and nearly 84 percent of downstate’s Assembly seats are controlled by Democrats. Republicans control 19 of the upstate Senate’s 23 districts and outnumber Democrats in the upstate Assembly, 28 to 25.
Republican Assemblyman Dan Stec told The Post Star that voters in upstate New York feel like their voices aren’t being heard.
But Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s senior advisor, called the bill “the Godzilla of pandering” and emphasized that downstate New York generates the majority of the state’s income taxes.
E.J. McMahon, research director of the conservative think tank Empire Center for Public Policy, told CBS New York and The Associated Press that, if the state splits, the upstate region would feel the economic effects.
“Upstate would need to do a really significant reset of the way government is funded and what it spends, and upstate politicians have not exactly been clamoring for the reforms that it would take to make that happen,” he said.
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