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Moving out

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New York State leads the nation in income-out-migration.

The Tax Foundation based in Washington used Internal Revenue Service data from 2000 and 2010 to map migration patterns in the country. The numbers showed that out-migration cost New York $45.6 billion in personal income.California and Illinois trailed New York.

And where did all that income go? Florida attracted $67.3 billion; Arizona and Texas followed.

Superficially, what distinguishes the losers from the winners are high income and property tax rates and overgrown government bureaucracies that impede economic development.But the causes are broader than just those rather reflexive excuses touted by politicians.

Out-migration is much broader than rich people looking to live in states with lower income tax rates. Out-migration includes rich, middle class and lower-income families.

Each group chafes at different aspects of life in New York State.

For some, it is the prospect of death taxes. For others, it is high personal income tax rates.

For others who have devoted their working years to jobs in the north country, fear of the continued escalation of local and school property taxes causes them to move to low tax states. For others not fortunate enough to have a government job, the lack of employment prospects in upstate New York leads them to states such as Pennsylvania or North Dakota where there are plenty of well-paying jobs in natural resources industries.And, of course, some New Yorkers look for warmer homes away from the chill of winter.

As these families move for whatever the reason, those left behind watch property values decline, neighborhoods atrophy and valuable community members disappear.

The theme behind many of these departures is distress over property taxes, which continue to be driven upward by the higher and higher costs of local and state government promises to employees. Those migrating leave behind jobs that do not provide rich pensions and growing wages, but they also leave behind fewer and fewer people to pay for those government benefits.

Government has done little to turn the tide. State and local leaders repeatedly raise taxes.

Look at St. Lawrence County, which just won the right to raise its sales tax 33 percent in return for a promise to reduce property taxes. But no sooner than the governor’s signature had approved the bill, St. Lawrence County’s treasurer Kevin M. Felt was preparing a resolution to ask the Legislature for permission to borrow $10 million to bridge cash flow challenges.

Mr. Felt pointed out that the anticipated revenue from the increased sales tax would be consumed entirely by the promised property tax cut. And though he promised to try and pay the county’s pension obligation on time,“there’s no guarantee.” In other words, St. Lawrence County is merely treading water having failed to cut the costs of government.

New York State’s political leaders refuse to make a decision on whether to allow the state to exploit its subterranean petroleum assets. Our electric power supply is barely adequate.

Upstate’s economy needs jobs before out-migration begins to slow. We can no longer afford the loss of billions of dollars in income, which has left rural upstate resulting in a declining infrastructure and little economic hope.

While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has promised to make the state’s public and private university system an incubator for tax free business investment, it is also time to free the economy from the shackles of regulation and high taxes to encourage jobs.

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