WOODBURY - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone delivered his fourth and final State of the County address Thursday night.
Bellone focused on the challenges of stopping the so-called "brain drain" of young professional Long Islanders moving elsewhere because of the high cost of living and lack of opportunities on the Island.
The executive unveiled a project called "Connect Long Island," which would build a network of downtowns with transportation links to job centers, research centers, parks and open space. Connect Long Island would also encourage innovation companies to set up shop in those downtowns and construct affordable housing.
Bellone also touted his administration's efforts to restore the county's fiscal foundation. He reminded residents that when he took office three years ago, the county had a budget hole of more than $400 million.
The executive says he made a series of tough choices to save taxpayer dollars and repair the county's finances.
Bellone says the county saved taxpayers $300 million by eliminating the need to build a new jail in Yaphank. He says this was accomplished by driving down crime and investing in recidivism reduction programs.