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Tackling New York State's population loss

"One of the worse in the county for tax climate"
Posted at 6:03 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 18:03:16-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “Buffalo is a great place and it's always going to be home,” declared Mike Carroll.

A lot of Buffalove adorns the walls of Carroll's home in Atlanta, Georgia. He left Buffalo six years ago.

Portrait of Buffalo's City Hall on the wall of Mike Carroll's home in Atlanta, Georgia.

His story is just one of many highlighting the state's population decline which started years ago.

In fact, 1.4 million people have left the state since 2010.

But now Governor Kathy Hochul is sounding the alarm bell on a massive population loss in New York State of more than 300,000 in 2020.

Hochul pointed out the troubling number during her State of the State Address Wednesday, saying in order embark on a new era and improve the economy, the harsh reality of the loss needs to be addressed.

Governor Kathy Hochul's State of the State address.

“Like the fact that 300,000 New Yorkers left our state last year alone — that's the steepest population drop of any state in the nation — an alarm bell that can not be ignored,” Hochul annoucned.

“New York State — one of the worse in the county for tax climate,” remarked Justin Wilcox, executive director, Upstate United.

The biggest reason, taxes — taxes on goods and services and state income tax rates.

“What's different for you there — is it better in Georgia?” Buckley asked.

Mike Carroll in a Zoom interview.

“Well, let me just say this — your paycheck will go farther. State income tax is about 25% less. Sales tax is about 25% less, property taxes are about one-third, so there's no question that your pay check does go farther,” Carroll replied.

Experts say many New Yorkers head to states like Florida and Texas where there is no state income tax.

“Folks are going to places like Florida. Florida is probably the number one destination for New Yorkers and this is a disturbing trend,”

Wilcox says his organization has already been sounding the alarm on the massive population loss.

Justin Wilcox, executive director, Upstate United.

“We can't continue to have an anti-business climate and not expect businesses and those that have the means to move not to do so,” reflected Wilcox.

Wilcox says he's pleased Governor Hochul is acknowledging it and that she's looking to create an economy that is more business and worker friendly.

Hochul is now looking to create a workforce development program.

“Workforce development programs, regionalizing those, using our community colleges — that’s going to be a really important step to rebuilding our workforce — making sure we have an adequately trained workforce for employers,” Wilcox noted.

Wilcox says expansion of the brown field cleanup is also a great way to strengthen economic development and create future jobs.

“It’s a win-win — removes these toxic sites from communities and turns them into tax producing properties s again,” said Wilcox.

But New York State Assemblyman Patrick Burke says population loss and gains must be examined closely.

“It’s just complicated, especially just the federalized system of how the United States works,” said Burke. “I think it begins with quality of life issues.”

New York State Assemblyman Patrick Burke.

Assemblyman Burke cautions those leaving because of higher taxes.

“If people can avoid income tax — avoid some environmental regulations and go to a state like Florida, where it's warm — what do you do? Is it a race to the bottom? We’ll do as little regulation as possible, we'll protect as few people as possible and screw it because we are worried about population loss — I don't think we can do that,” remarked Burke.

Burke tells me he is willing to look at tax issues, but says it’s much broader.

“If you look at it from a national perspective, there’s been probably the biggest decline in population in the history of the United States being a country,” Burke replied. “I think it is really, really complicated and I know folks want to limit it to a small thing, but it’s just not that when you compare to other states - there are other states with some very high regulations.”