New York State Exposed: Why are New Yorkers leaving?

Posted at: 10/21/2013 6:26 AM
Updated at: 10/21/2013 5:27 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

The frustration over taxes and registration fees is driving more people to leave New York than any other state in the nation. That means fewer people paying taxes, buying homes and going to restaurants.

A study by the Tax Foundation shows New York is 50th in what it calls “income migration”. From 2000 to 2010, more than $45 billion in salaries moved out of New York. The next highest is California, but its total was only $29 billion.

Joe Kabasta, who is moving to Tennessee, said, “There's no option. There's nothing I can do to make a difference. The only difference is to vote with my feet and walk away.”

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean talked Joe Kabasta and his wife, Karen, in their backyard in Hamlin. Their backyard is huge. It has a pond stocked with fish. It's his dream home. But it is on the market.

Kabasta said, “I pay $8,700 a year in property tax. That's just outrageous.”

Joe says his property taxes nearly doubled over five years. Now he and Karen have bought a new home in Tennessee. He says their yearly property tax bill there is less than what he pays here in one month. 

When Joe and his wife leave, they take their incomes with them. 

And how bad is that for New York? Over a decade, the state lost more than $45 billion in income that moved to a different state. Texas ranks third in the Tax Foundation's “Income Migration” report and ranks 11th best for business tax climate because of zero income tax, lower property taxes. Texas is actively poaching New York jobs and people. New Yorkers are taking advantage. In ten years, $1.1 billion of New York income migrated to Texas. 

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean asked New York State Assemblyman Mark Johns about how the state can fix this.

Assemblyman Mark Johns, (R, Fairport), said, “Well we work on tax and regulatory issues to allow the jobs that we train young people for to be created in this state.”

Republican Assemblyman Mark Johns says New York spends more on higher education than any other state. 

Johns said, “Yet some of the best and brightest young people in STEM(science, technology, engineering and math), they're leaving. They're going to Raleigh, North Carolina, the Research Triangle Park and we are losing that tax revenue and it hurts us.”

News10NBC tracked down Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy about this.

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean asked, “What would you say to those people that have left New York and thinking of leaving New York because they don't think they can get ahead here?”

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said, “So I would say to those who are thinking of leaving, stay here, don't leave. Help us grow. I think you have to look at everybody across the board in both houses to help us get to a the point of tax cuts and be much more disciplined in our spending. To be able to say no to certain things and save money.”

Too late for Joe and Karen Kabasta. They're on their way out. The pull of financial freedom is stronger than the hometown ties. 

Karen Kabasta said, “We look at it as having to look into our future for retirement purposes and cost of living and how we're going to manage.”

Brean asked, “This has got to be an incredibly emotional decision for you.”

Joe Kabasta said, “Very. Very. It's killing me.  It's killing me.”

Governor Cuomo's office says New York has the lowest middle class tax rate in 60 years and that people are paying less than they were three years ago. They also mention that there are zero-tax zones, what the state calls “Start Up New York” and a property tax cap, although it is not a hard cap. There are more than a quarter of a million new private sector jobs since Cuomo took office in 2010.

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean will be taking your questions on this story tonight between 5:00p.m. to 7:00p.m on our Facebook page.