Written by Sarah Lansdale Friday, 31 July 2009 00:00
Times have changed. From what seems like our never-ending economic downturn, we are all facing new insecurities about what the future holds for ourselves and our children. We’ve been engulfed in chaos, gloom and swarms of inconsistent responses to this crisis. We are questioning even more, what will it take for us to be better equipped, more prepared next time a recession hits?
Some advocates and lawmakers keep bringing up secession as Long Island’s solution.
Why the push for a State of Long Island? The leading reason why is that Long Island contributes about $8 billion in taxes each year to Albany and only sees about $5 billion returned through services and subsidies. Recent bailout plans have now rendered even less favorably for Long Island taxpayers.
We Long Islanders have been particularly hit hard. Our auto-dependent, live here – work there – shop someplace else, heavily -taxed, Long Island lifestyle puts us even more at risk in an unstable economic climate. Because our region developed without adequate planning, the consequences inhibit us from easily adapting.
We are an undeniably unique region- both good and bad. We are extraordinarily diverse, yet we manage to be the third most segregated suburb in the country. If independent, Long Island would boast one of the highest, if not the highest median household incomes in the country, but with some of the richest communities we are also home to just as many neglected, distressed communities.
We have developed into a series of isolated communities – each one competing with the next to attract quality businesses and jobs while limiting the number of affordable units or new children to the school district. This kind of narrow-minded, piecemeal approach is something we must abandon for a new regional approach.
While creating our own state likely isn’t the answer, it’s about time for Long Islanders to start thinking like a region. Every Long Islander cares about protecting our air and water, our diminishing open spaces, our magnificent beaches. Every Long Islander wants the opportunity to afford a home, to find a rewarding and secure job locally. Every Long Islander believes that the voice of each citizen deserves to be heard and that each person should have a say when it comes to the future of their community. Every Long Islander hopes for a vibrant economy, a healthy environment and a socially equitable region for all who live here, now and in future generations.
In the past, adjacent counties, towns and villages have traditionally focused on home rule. Collaboration between our layers upon layers of government, including Nassau and Suffolk Counties, our 13 towns, two cities and 96 villages, has been sorely lacking. It is really a tremendous opportunity for us to start acting regionally, optimizing our efficiency and pushing our elected leaders to represent all of our best interests.
Never before has one agenda represented the imperatives of improving the environment, the economy and advancing our region in more positive social ways. It could be a regional movement, with support from the easternmost tip of the forks to the Queens/Nassau border. We would all be working together for a better Long Island.
Regional thinking and planning is our path out of the current economic crisis and our safety net and preparation for what’s to come; a solution not for one individual community or one that benefits one town and burdens another. We ought to be working together and thinking more about what we all need and don’t need and what decisions are in our best interest – as one region.