This was a question someone posted on Topix, generating the "we can get along without them" vs "we need them" type of discussion. One person posted that both regions need each other. I agree with the last view. (I remember in the 1970s when NYC was in an incredible amount of debt, but the Upstate economy was fine and kept things afloat for all).
The problem now is that the needs of these different regions are no longer reflected in state policies. The Downstate majority runs everything to its favor. The Upstate perspective is inadequately represented.
Before the NYS Senate was reapportioned in the late 1960s to reflect a "one man one vote" US Supreme Court interpretation of the "equal protection" clause of the US Constitution, State policies had to be good for both Upstate and Downstate to get past the NYS Senate. A bit like the US Constitution's giving each state 2 senators regardless of population, the NYS Constitution gave Upstate regions more representatives to ensure that differing regional perspectives had a voice in policy making. The result was state policy that was good for the entire state. Compared to now, Upstate was booming back then.
This balance was done away with by the US Supreme Court. You can point to that event as marking the beginning of Upstate's descent both financially and in population, and the entire state's loss of representatives and importance in Washington. Now it is the "tyrrany of the majority" found in a pure democracy that rules us ... something that the framers of both the US and NYS Constitutions sought to avoid.
Restoring the Balance would resolve the issue, but how to get there is a big question. Getting the US Supreme Court to revisit and reverse its past decision -- and then NYS restoring the old Senate representation formula -- would be one approach. Splitting the state administratively into Upstate and Downstate regions with laws having to be approved by the representatives of both regions to become effective might be another approach.
But if the balance cannot be restored, then the only hope for Upstate survival is to break away and make its own policies.