Long Island: The 51st state?

Article tools

Long Island -- bigger than 19 states and more populous than all but the country's three largest cities -- is big enough to stand on its own, secede and become the 51st state, said Suffolk Comptroller Joseph Sawicki.

Sawicki will formally renew his call to make Nassau and Suffolk -- with their 2.8 million people -- its own state at an 8 a.m. breakfast Friday morning sponsored by Dowling College's Long Island Economic and Social Policy Institute.

"Before you dismiss me as being on the fringe of craziness, just imagine: Taxes raised on Long Island would be spent on Long Island," said Sawicki, dusting off an idea that he first proposed as a state assemblyman in 1991.

Sawicki said the region in 2004 sent $8.1 billion to Albany in taxes and fees but got back only $5.2 billion. "I don't know about you, but I don't like the way these numbers add up," he said. "It leaves Long Island paying for the rest of the state."

Such local movements have been a recurring issue across New York for years. Long Island's East End has sought a separate Peconic County, Staten Island has sought to break away from New York City and Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. has also pushed to make New York City a state unto itself. Most such efforts fail because the rest of the Empire State balks at such political amputations.

But Martin Cantor, the institute's director, said the sagging economy and the state's turmoil -- amid resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the ascension of successor David Paterson and questions over control of the state Senate -- make the time ripe for reviving the idea of Long Island statehood.

"It makes sense now because whether it be Spitzer or Paterson, no attention is being paid to Long Island," Cantor said.

Reaction from top Long Island figures was mixed. Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi said, "There should be some serious people looking at this," noting that Long Island communities would benefit because tax revenue would remain here. However, he worried that separating from New York would mean reproducing state services here, which could mean higher taxes.

Others were emphatic against the notion. "It's asinine," Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio.

Some took a more lighthearted view of the idea. Islip Supervisor Philip Nolan said, "The creation of Long Island as the 51st state would set off the best competition ever -- between Tom Suozzi and Steve Levy. That would be brutal. I'd love to watch that."

Staff writers Stacey Altherr, Susana Enriquez, Chau Lam and Jennifer Maloney and Patrick Whittle contributed to this story.

More articles

Get breaking news alerts!

Would you recommend this?

Rate it:
No Somewhat Neutral Yes Highly


Search Classifieds


Listings, directories and deals

Items for Sale
Travel Deals
Grocery Coupons

Classifieds get results! - Place an Ad


Special Projects

The Katie Trebing story The fight for civil rights

Local leaders, then and now, reflect on doing their part to push for equality.

The Katie Trebing story The Katie Trebing story

A daughter with a deadly disease, an extraordinary chance to save her...create the perfect sibling.

They Failed to Act They Failed to Act

Since 1995, the Long Island Rail Road has logged nearly 900 gap incidents at stations from Penn to Bridgehampton.

Born to Serve Born to Serve

Michael P. Murphy's actions in June, 2005 earned him, posthumously, the nation's highest military award.

Coram station Fire Alarm

The only comprehensive look at the last large public service on Long Island impervious to outside scrutiny - the fire system.

Coram station Remembering Flight 800

On the beach at Smith Point County Park is a monument with the names of the 230 passengers and crew from Flight 800.

Our Fallen Our Fallen

Soldiers from Long Island killed in uniform reflect the face of our communities. Newsday remembers their sacrifice.

Explore Long Island

LI's best bartender

Think you're the best bartender on LI? Enter our contest today.

On tap this week
Spring photos
Dining | Weddings
Explore Long Island

March Madness

Fill out your brackets and win.

• | Interactive | MORE
• | | |
Who will win it all?

My Long Island

Long Island user photos Your life in photos

Your faces. Your cameras. Your life. Upload your photos now.