The state delivered on promises to help move Long Island’s innovation economy forward, with more than $330 million tucked away in various pots of the just-passed 2016-17 budget.
The headliner: $50 million to jump-start a $350 million center for bioelectronic medicine based on the pioneering research of Kevin Tracey, director of Northwell Health’s Feinstein Center for Medical Research. Bioelectronics, which uses electrical pulses to stimulate the immune system, has the potential to replace drug therapies for such conditions as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and potentially dozens more.
Even without a center, a just-launching Feinstein spinoff plans to market a device that uses bioelectronics to significantly slow blood flow – a breakthrough for surgeons, EMTs and battlefield medics.
Another marquee appropriation: $25 million to launch Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s planned Center for Therapeutic Research, which would help move drugs and other treatments to market without waiting for Big Pharma to get on board. The lab is hoping for another $50 million for the project from the National Institutes of Health.
Also: A $25 million appropriation to help expand Hofstra University’s engineering school and millions more for new programs at Stony Brook University and capital projects at Brookhaven National Lab.
The budget is loaded with other spending that would support a future innovation economy on Long Island, including $50 million for infrastructure at the Ronkonkoma hub project and a customs inspection station that would allow Islip’s MacArthur Airport to handle international flights. It also includes $5 million to study a tunnel connecting Long island and Westchester and $1 million to consider a deep-water port at Shoreham.
Locally, the appropriations are being referred to as the makings of a “research corridor” that would span a giant swath of the Island’s geography, from Brookhaven National Lab in the east, to Stony Brook University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Farmingdale’s Broad Hollow Science Park and Republic Airport, NYIT and Long Island University, then on to Hofstra University and the hub project in Uniondale.
Beyond the innovation-focused investment, the budget includes:
· $87.7 million in capital funding for SUNY institutions on Long Island
· $40 million in funding for local roads and bridges
· $1.5 million to address poverty in Hempstead through the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative
· $10 million for a Long Island community selected by the Regional Council to fund transformative housing, economic development, transportation and community projects designed to attract and retain residents, visitors, and businesses to downtowns
· A marketing plan for 14.5 acres of aviation or commercial development at Republic Airport plus 12.5 acre mixed-use development with a new LIRR stop.
· $200,000 for groundwater monitoring in Nassau County to support the Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevent Strategy
· $4.5 million for sewer improvement projects, septic improvements, and nitrogen management in Suffolk County
· $5 million for improvements to the Bay Park Wastewater Treatment Plant in Nassau County
· $1.8 million for the Long Island Pine Barrens Commission, which preserves a critical drinking water source for Long Island
· $150 million for extreme weather hardening of the Nassau Expressway
· $54 million to reconstruct 8 miles of State Route 112
· $66.6 million for transit operating assistance to Nassau County; $25.9 million for Suffolk County; and $4.5 billion for the MTA that includes operations of the Long Island Rail Road
· $500,000 to Bethpage State Park for golf course improvements to prepare for major tournaments
· $2,000,000 Heckscher State Park improvements
· $10 million for Jones Beach State Park for the comprehensive Jones Beach Revitalization Initiative, and $400,000 to start construction of a bicycle and walking trail
· $7 million in tax credits to grow the agricultural industry on Long Island
· $22 million to expand LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University
· $7.5 million for campus upgrades at Stony Brook Southampton
· $900,000 to advance water quality and climate resiliency projects in communities of the South Shore Estuary