Cuomo’s Legacy: Upstate New York’s Death Rattle

Cuomo's Legacy - Dick DowneyRichard Downey
Unatego Area Landowners Association


Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legacy is looking to be Upstate New York’s death rattle as he strips away the few natural advantages the region enjoys.

Throughout history, from our hunter/gather fore bearers to our Twittering millennials, the most powerful market signal – and nothing else comes close – is where people choose to live . . . or leave. It’s human nature. When times get hard, people have loaded the ox-cart or the U-Haul, gone steerage or bought a one-way business-class to move to greener pastures.

Consider Upstate New York. People are packing their bags. Upstate’s bleeding population. Check the plummeting school enrollments. Count the “For Sale” signs.


Richard Dietz of the Second District Federal Reserve studied the in-migration and out-migration of 25 to 44 year olds in Upstate New York. If the 52 counties of Upstate New York were bundled together to form a state (Upstatia?), that state would rank 49th in the country for drawing people in to live and work. Few move to Upstatia. There’s not enough good jobs.

cuomo's legacy

The Comptrollers Office recently reported that from June 2009 (the end of the Recession) to June, 2016, the total job growth in Upstatia has been a whopping 0.3 percent That’s seven years, folks. In contrast, downstate over the same period has experienced over seven times that rate of growth. With few jobs, few move to Upstatia.

Local leaders realize this. From annual conferences to the grant applications (and awards) to the hiring of a one-stop-shop industrial development coordinator, the regional focus has been on jobs. All good. However, these local efforts buck headwinds in a high tax, highly regulated, high overhead, business adverse state like New York. If you want to bet on a business-negative ranking in any category, bet on New York State to place or show. You’ll be in the money.

We could have cheap energy. Cheap energy and supportive infrastructure are the two key elements companies look for when they relocate. Cheap energy means gas. Gas mean pipelines.

Renewables need pipelines too. Now don’t be grabbing the smelling salts. It’s true. The week the Comptroller was documenting anemic upstate growth, officials from Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts teamed to evaluate fifty “green” energy applications for their region. Buried in the inevitable press release was mention of the need for more gas pipelines. The dirty little secret of renewables is that they need fossil fuel back-up for storage and wind/solar variability problems. Governor Cuomo virtually ignores this fact (one mention on page 37 of a 54 page synopsis) in his “Energy to Lead” Plan for New York. Some brave staffer should tap him on the shoulder, give him a reality check.

So what’s the deal here, Guv? Your multi-billion renewable plan needs gas pipelines. The economy of Upstatia needs gas pipelines. Don’t tell us that a routine 401 Water Quality permit stands in your way. No one believes you. You own the DEC Commissioner and his store.

Cuomo's Legacy

Could it be that the crony capitalist cartel and their tax exempt family foundations have bought you and the “environmental” fringe of your party has scared you into sacrificing Upstatia? The rubes don’t vote for you anyway, right? Let ’em eat hay.

In the meantime, the population of Upstatia drips . . . drips . . . drips and drifts away. . . to anywhere but New York’s Upstatia.

Richard Downey is a retired New York City schoolteacher and a member of the Unatego Board of Education and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.

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4 thoughts on “Cuomo’s Legacy: Upstate New York’s Death Rattle

    At the request of the New York State IBEW Utility Labor Council, the Rochester Building and
    Construction Trades Council and the Central and Northern New York Building and Construction
    Trades Council, The Brattle Group has estimated the value of the nuclear plants located in
    Upstate New York (Ginna Nuclear Generating Station in Wayne County and FitzPatrick Nuclear
    Power Plant and Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station in Oswego County) to the state’s
    Our analysis has determined that nuclear plants operating in Upstate New York:
     contribute approximately $3.16 billion to state gross domestic product (GDP) ($5.25
    billion in gross output).
     account for about 24,800 in-state full time jobs (direct and secondary).
     help keep electricity prices lower than they would otherwise be – New York consumers
    would pay over $1.7 billion annually (2015$) and almost $15 billion in the next ten years
    (on a present value basis) absent the Upstate nuclear plants.
     are responsible for $144 million in net state tax revenues annually, including more than
    $60 million in annual state and local property taxes.
     avoid almost 16 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, that equates to a societal value of
    almost $700 million annually based on federal estimates.

  2. Bravo. Heartily agree. But I’m not the problem. Cuomo is and his band of cronies.
    Out of touch he is. Smoking something.
    I have lived in upstate all my life. 69 years. Raised kids, built a business and the reward I get is more taxes, more regulation, and more fees.
    Retiring, I’m outa here.

  3. Let me note a couple of comments on the period since this was written.

    1. The plan to store LPG in salt caverns was nixxed by Cuomo’s DEC (and caving to the anti-carbon Ithacans), stopping about $20 million in planned capital investment, and losing the 2 jobs that could have been added.

    2. If you take away the population growth of Ithaca, driven by the two colleges, then the outpouring of population from Upstate looks even worse.


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