New Direction For New York

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Jan 28, 2009 at 7:01 PM EST

A new leader means a new direction for the New York Senate.

Majority Leader Malcolm Smith visited Greater Binghamton in an effort to form a foundation for local development.

Action News reporter Erik Burling tells us it could come with big changes for some state programs.

"Our new Majority Leader Malcolm Smith," said Democrat Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo.

Malcolm Smith's new role in the State Senate comes the task of leading the state out of a 15 billion dollar deficit.

"We all have to be partners in this," said Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith.

Smith, local lawmakers, and businesses leaders joined together in Binghamton to share ideas that could spur upstate's economy.

"We have the workforce, we have the intelligence, we have the agriculture. We have all of the components of a green economy," said Lupardo.

Smith is committed to re-tooling manufacturing facilities and making sites shovel ready for new business.

But what about luring companies through the Empire Zone Development Program?

"Clearly we have to do something about it. It's not working."

Smith says overall, the state's losing money.

Empire Zones give tax breaks and other incentives to do business in distressed areas.

"We think it is working really well in Upstate New York... We certainly don't want the rules changed in the middle of the game for companies like Endicott-Interconnect," said Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan.

The STAR Rebate program will also get a second look.

In the past few years, the state has spent millions giving rebate checks on school taxes to property owners who qualify for the STAR exemption.

But Governor Paterson has proposed eliminating the rebates.

"We have to be careful about the property tax rebate in terms of our seniors."

"There has to be some way to keep those property taxes in reach. Especially for our elderly people. "

It's up to the new leadership to decide the direction the state's future will take.

Republican State Senator Thomas Libous was not at the meeting with Smith.

His office says he was stuck in Albany due to the weather.

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