Since at least the 1990s, New York State legislators have been proposing separating New York City from the rest of the state.
Assemblyman David DiPietro’s proposed constitutional amendment is the latest.
“This goes way beyond protest,” he said. “This is something that has to happen. We have to divide.”
DiPietro’s proposal is one of several just this year to broach the subject. While the conversation seems to come in cycles, E.J. McMahon from the Empire Center for Public Policy believes it’s picked up because Upstate lawmakers are frustrated by policy and diminishing influence.
“Upstate’s representation in the Legislature is primarily comprised of powerless Republicans. Upstate has virtually no representation among the statewide elected officials, again except for the lieutenant governor who is somebody picked by the governor,” McMahon said.
The research director for the conservative think tank said the primary reason a split won’t happen is because a significant portion of Upstate governmental funding comes from downstate revenue.
“If you didn’t radically reduce the cost of local government and Medicaid in Upstate New York, and schools, if you didn’t do something to radically reduce the cost of them, you’d have to tremendously increase taxes to a level where hardly anybody would be left. No one would stay in Upstate New York,” he said.
Despite DiPietro’s insistence his proposal should be seriously considered, Democratic analyst Jack O’Donnell has his doubts.
“Legislation is introduced for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it’s things that people will pass. Sometimes it’s really to just draw a line in the sand or really wave your arms in the air and yell, and that’s what this legislation is,” O’Donnell said.