Ortt wants to end state tax credits for film industry

Posted 28 March 2019 at 3:16 pm

Press Release, State Sen. Robert Ortt

Today, State Senator Rob Ortt (R,C,I,Ref-North Tonawanda) called for the Governor and Legislature to remove the Empire State Film Tax Credits from the Fiscal Year 2020 budget and shift its $420 million cost to fund critical health, education, direct support, and veterans’ needs.

What started as a modest $25 million tax credit has ballooned to the second-largest film industry subsidy in the U.S. With New York’s budget due April 1 and serious funding needs remaining, as well as Amazon’s much-publicized exit from New York, Ortt and his colleagues said the time was right for the tax credit’s elimination.

“As we stare down a budget deadline and weigh important funding priorities, we must question whether spending $420 million on the Hollywood film industry is the best use of taxpayer dollars,” said Ortt. “Our state’s roads, bridges, and mass transit are in disrepair, veterans and women’s health programs are being cut, direct care workers are woefully underfunded, and our schools need help. Whether it’s agriculture or manufacturing, there are other critical industries struggling in New York that don’t benefit from anything near the corporate welfare that is the Empire State Film Tax Credits.”

Earlier this year, Senate Democrats dismantled a deal between New York State/City and Amazon that would have seen $27 billion in revenue and 25,000 jobs brought into the state over the coming years. Along with local political concerns, Senate Democrats offered taxpayer-funded subsidies (in exchange for Amazon’s business) as their reason for opposition. Meanwhile, New York State continues to provide significant corporate subsidies through the $420 million annual tax credit to the film industry, Ortt said.

Governor Cuomo, who has supported and expanded the program since taking office, recently suggested the credit be eliminated to fund other priorities. Democratic Senator and Finance Chair, Liz Kruger, has repeatedly questioned the need for the film tax credit and suggested it was too generous. But last week, she heralded the credits’ success and stated that the Senate would not end the credit.

Ortt was joned by ther Senate colleagues in calling for an end to the film tax credits, including Sen. Pam Helming (R,C,I-Canandaigua), Sen. Robert E. Antonacci II (R,I,C,UJP-Onondaga) and Sen. Fred Akshar (R,C,I – Endwell).

“The Governor’s team continues to double down on the same failed economic development policies when they should be focused on making New York more affordable for everyday New Yorkers,” Akshar said. “The millions forfeited to Hollywood could easily cover the Governor’s raid on aid to municipalities (AIM) funding that’s forcing local governments to either raise taxes or cut services for New York residents. New Yorkers are leaving in droves, and giving tax breaks to film producers does nothing to stop that. How many more manufacturers, small businesses and residents must we lose before we change course and work to make New York more affordable for everyone?”

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