Economic desolation has consumed New York’s Southern Tier region, which traces the New York-Pennsylvania border, and some locals are blaming the New York state government for their woes. According to WBNG-TV, the Upstate New York Towns Association, which represents the interests of towns in the area, is researching whether it would be possible or prudent for fifteen towns located in the counties of Broome, Sullivan, Delaware, and Tioga to secede from New York and join Pennsylvania. The Upstate New York Towns Association has declined to name which towns have expressed interest in secession.
A statement released by the organization read, “On December 17, 2014, when it was announced that high volume hydraulic fracturing would be banned in New York State and there would be no casino license in the ‘true’ Southern Tier, a supervisor, whose town is a member of the Association, told a reporter from the Wall Street Journal that we should all secede… That supervisor discussed the idea of seceding to Pennsylvania with the Association. The Association began comparing taxes in New York with taxes in Pennsylvania and comparing the cost of doing business in New York with the cost of doing business in Pennsylvania. The Association also is studying whether or not decisions made in Albany are disproportionately benefiting Downstate.”
At issue are high taxes and bans on fracking and casinos, which some residents feel are crushing the local economy. Conklin, NY town supervisor Jim Finch (R) told WBNG-TV, “The Southern Tier is desolate. We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground… We’re comparing the taxes in Pennsylvania compared to those in New York. There’s a great, great difference. Right now, we are being deprived of work, jobs and incomes.”
Bradford County, PA Commissioner Doug McLinko (R) said that he feels the pain of New Yorkers who want to jump ship and join up with Pennsylvania. Said McLinko in the above-embedded video coverage by Newswatch 16, “They look across the border and see our farms prospering, staying intact. They’re not being subdivided. They see our county cut taxes, eliminated debt.”
New York Senate Deputy Majority Coalition Leader Tom Libous (R) recently made news when he issued a pocketbook survey to his constituents asking them if they would support allowing some of the affected towns to secede from New York. Though the fifteen towns looking at secession have not yet identified themselves, Libous’ pocketbook survey specifically named Conklin and Kirkwood as two of the possible towns. The Upstate New York Towns Association says that the plan for fifteen towns to secede from New York and join Pennsylvania would have to be approved by the Pennsylvania and New York state legislatures, as well as the federal government. Conklin town supervisor Jim Finch called the possibility that the plan might work “far fetched” in comments to The Huffington Post. The Upstate New York Towns Association said it is conducting a study and will decide whether to go forward with secession after considering the merits and potential complications involved with the transition.
Though attempts at secession from New York have been tried many times before, most have failed, and the last successful effort took place in the 1790s when Vermont seceded from the state.