There is now new life in a decades-old debate across New York State. Should NYS be divided into two states?

Batavia native and republican State Assemblyman Steve Hawley is re-introducing a non-binding referendum to separate downstate from upstate.

“Spending is the issue, mandates are the issue, fees and philosophies of government are the issues and I think we’re very very different, upstate New York and Western New York in particular,” said Hawley.

Hawley told News 4 if his referendum passes it would be up to the voters to decide. He wants to put a question on the ballot asking , ‘should New York be divided into two states?’ Hawley says studies would need to be done to see if it would be feasible.

“I think it’s something we ought to ask folks about. Many of these propositions that are pushed on us from New York City have nothing to do with the rest of the State of New York.”

Hawley says his legislation is sparked by seeing what he calls “controversial items” passed in New York State. He points to the newly passed abortion bill, the dream act and gun control.

Democratic Assemblyman Sean Ryan says it’s unlikely this would come to a vote. He says without New York City, Western New York wouldn’t survive.

“So from an economic prospective it would be very bad for Western New York. A huge portion of our tax revenue, income taxes come from New York City millionaires, it would cripple us from revenues,” said Ryan.

Hawley says last week he wrote a letter to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to allow this legislation to come to a floor vote. He is hopeful that will happen, but he says he has not yet heard back.