ALBANY - (AP) - Two New York State officials say a tentativedeal has been struck to replace the long criticized Empire Zoneprogram. It would be replaced by a more closely scrutinizedeconomic development tool to entice employers to retain and growjobs.

The officials say that Gov. David Paterson and legislativeleaders are expected to announce the landmark change this week.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because thedeal hasn't been announced. The Buffalo News first reported thedeal in its online editions Wednesday.

Empire Zone program was marred by scandal in which politicallyconnected companies secured tax breaks despite failing to keeppromises for new jobs.

It would be replaced by the Excelsior Jobs program that wouldprovide less aid in tax breaks and incentives this year.