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Another Voice: Upstate is ill-served by Trump's words, policies

By Andrew M. Cuomo

President Trump’s call for people to leave upstate New York — or “Upper New York,” as he calls it – is as misinformed as it is insulting to New Yorkers. 

The facts paint a very different picture than the president’s alternative reality. Since 2010, unemployment is down in every region of the state and New York now has more private sector jobs than at any point in its history. In Western New York, unemployment has more than halved, from 8.5 percent to 4.2 percent today. Wages are up 18.6 percent from 2010. And the once-moribund Buffalo housing market has also been on fire in recent years, with the median home price increasing by more than 40 percent since 2011.

After more than four decades of population loss, Erie County’s population has actually increased. Better still, the county’s millennial population — the 25- to 34-year-old demographic putting down roots and beginning families — has increased 21 percent since 2010. Young people aren't leaving, they are actually choosing to make upstate New York their home.

Western New Yorkers, especially, don’t need the stats to see the transformation underway across the state. They see the region’s resurgence with their own eyes: Canalside drawing millions of visitors; Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus bringing jobs, health care and innovation moving into the heart of downtown Buffalo; Northland Workforce Development Center preparing the workers of tomorrow. They see historic improvements to Niagara Falls State Park and the new Buffalo Harbor State Park. And they see a surge in tourism – 18.8 million tourists to the region in 2017, a 15.8 percent increase since 2011.  

To be sure, Western New York and the entire state continue to face real challenges – thanks in large part to this president. Whether it’s dissuading Canadians from traveling to Western New York to shop or stemming the flow of new Americans who have played such a vital role in Western New York’s resurgence, his policies are slowing our growth and costing jobs. 

Worse still, his elimination of the full state and local tax, or SALT, deduction is a targeted assault on his home state. It hurts New York more than any other state, threatening home values and forcing New York families – who already face sky-high local property taxes – to pay some $14 billion more to the federal government. 

In New York, we have fought to reduce taxes across the board. Today every New Yorker pays a lower tax rate than when I took office, and our 2 percent local property cap has saved Western New Yorkers alone nearly $2 billion. But instead of working with us to ease the tax burden, this president is actively working against us.

 Maybe President Trump still holds a grudge from his failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills. It’s easy to imagine that had he succeeded, he would have done with the team what he’s saying residents should do — take them somewhere else. Fortunately, Terry and Kim Pegula worked with New York State and Erie County to keep the Bills in Western New York, which is what all the expats moving back and "stay-pats” who never left are doing too.

Andrew M. Cuomo is governor of New York.

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