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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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County Executive Delivers State of the County Address

During Wednesday night’s State of the County address, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy discussed some of the highlights and pitfalls of the last year but did little to calm some of the immediate concerns plaguing students.

The hour-long speech highlighted how the county has managed and will continue to develop new initiatives in areas such as affordable housing, jobs, technology and infrastructure – all areas that have the potential to affect the campus community – while still pinching pennies.

“Here in Suffolk the future is now,” Levy said to a crowd of more than 200 journalists, politicians, residents and county employees in Stony Brook University’s Wang Center auditorium. The address brought the politician, who has expressed an interest in running for governor back to his alma mater where he graduated in 1981 with a degree in political science.

The county executive cited hardships in Georgia and California to point out that Suffolk County’s concerns are being felt nationwide.

“The challenges are indeed daunting,” said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko.

In 2009 the county lost $100 million in sales tax revenue, witnessed layoffs and suffered mid-year cuts to health care and education. But through careful budget oversight the county also saved move than $100 million in the last six years, according to Levy. “We prepared for the oncoming storm,” Levy said.

Levy also addressed the issue of taxes, which are among the highest in the nation. “We will not raise taxes if we don’t have to,” Levy said. “We’re going to continue to hold down the line to the best of our abilities.”

Stony Brook University is a major contributor to the local economy. The campus, which Levy referred to as “the jewel of the state system,” pumps $4.6 billion yearly into the local economy. However, with all the topics discussed, Levy did not mention the budget troubles and hopes of increasing faculty, although these are not issues usually addressed by the county.

The university president was not discouraged. “I think because so much has to be covered,” said President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. after the speech. “I felt a lot of promise.” The county executive did commend the partnership of the university with Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Levy’s goal to build more affordable housing in the county could help increase the campus community population, according to Stanley. For over a year, graduate assistants on campus have been campaigning for higher wages and more affordable housing.

According to Levy, the next year will continue to bring much needed revitalization and jobs to main streets county-wide, jumpstart the lagging fishing industry as water pollution is stymied and create approximately 700 jobs with the re-development of an airport in the Hamptons.

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