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Long Island scores $400 million for 'transformative' projects

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, talks

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, talks about the state budget with the media at the state Capitol on Monday, March 30, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. Photo Credit: AP/Mike Groll

ALBANY - Tucked into the state budget is a $400 million fund that will go to “transformative” projects on Long Island and downstate, officials confirmed Tuesday.

The specially designated fund compensates the Island for receiving a comparatively slim share of a windfall from national banking settlements, officials said.

A day earlier, the Cuomo administration outlined an agreement on how to divvy up the $5.4 billion New York will receive from federal settlements; it earmarked just $150 million for Long Island while delegating much larger sums for upstate development and the Tappan Zee Bridge that spans the Hudson River.

But budget bills printed Tuesday revealed a $400 million “Transformative Investment Program,” that Senate and Assembly officials said would be distributed downstate.

“It’s for Long Island,” said one state legislator who asked to remain anonymous because the fund hadn’t been officially announced.   

The state capital projects bill said the fund would be “appropriated for the payment, over a multi-year period, of capital costs of regionally significant economic development initiatives that create or retain private sector jobs.”

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said Monday that he was hoping Long Island would get at least $500 million in economic development funds from the 2015-16 budget. Rank-and-file legislators were trying to finish voting on the spending plan by midnight, the start of New York’s fiscal year.

Business groups and other Island advocates had been pushing for lawmakers to approve a "Long Island Billion" aid package.

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