Action On New York’s Outmigration Issue Is Long Overdue

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I,Ref-Pulaski)
January 31, 2020

If a store, restaurant or any organization started losing customers, people in charge would make adjustments or they’d be out of business. So as New Yorkers continue to leave the state in alarming numbers, it’s time for some serious conversations and actions to address the ongoing outmigration issue that has led 1.4 million people in the last 10 years to seek greener pastures.

Gov. Cuomo’s previous assessment that residents are leaving because of the weather dismisses the core problem. New York’s notoriously harsh tax climate, business climate, regulatory climate and oppressive cost-of-living are driving the mass exodus. The first step to mitigating this problem is to acknowledge it exists.

A recent article from the New York Post highlights just how bad outmigration has gotten. As of the middle of last year, the state had shed a whopping 76,790 residents from the year prior. That’s the equivalent of losing a Cortland, a Herkimer or a Schoharie County. New York was one of only 10 states to see its population drop from 2018 to 2019, and it was the fourth straight year New York lost more people than it gained.

According to an Empire Center report, measurements taken last July show 180,649 more residents moved out of New York than moved in from other states during the preceding 12 months. The state is at risk of losing as many as two congressional seats once the official census is completed. No matter how you slice the statistics, the picture is the same, people are fleeing.

As lawmakers and the governor begin the process of developing the 2020-2021 State Budget, it is crucial this fundamental obstacle is appropriately addressed. Taxes remain prohibitive, and despite the property tax cap and proposed business tax cuts—both issues championed by the Assembly Minority Conference—true fiscal reform will need to come from serious, deep cuts across the board. Controlling growth is important, but it’s not enough to keep residents, businesses, taxpayers and entrepreneurs here.

The Assembly Minority Conference has consistently pushed for real reform, with tax and spending cuts at the heart of our proposals. But, more than that, we have pushed for a change in mentality. It is too expensive to live and work in New York, and until the cost of living in every sector of the state drops, including, but not limited to, costs for energy, transportation, housing and food, people will continue to leave. We must do better, and there is absolutely no better time than now.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at or by calling (315) 598-5185. You may also find me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.