$840 million deal renewing New York’s film and television tax credit quietly tucked into state budget

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An $840 million deal renewing New York’s controversial film and television tax credit for two years was quietly tucked into the state budget last week.

Launched in 2004 as a 10 percent refundable credit on “below the line” production costs with a modest price tag of $25 million, the program has evolved to a $420 million recurring budget commitment for a credit that has tripled in size. It is far and away the state’s most expensive tax credit targeted to a specific industry.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Democratic lawmakers and the film industry claim the credit is worthwhile because of the economic activity it generates. Fiscal experts across the ideological spectrum  counter that New York isn’t getting a good return on its investment and is subsidizing some productions that would film here without an incentive.

The program wasn’t set to expire until 2022, and was essentially left out of the conversation surrounding this year’s budget — until a two-year extension was quietly added to the final agreement.

“In the last hours of the budget debate, when the revenue bill came out … there it was in there,” said Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat and chair of the chamber’s Finance Committee.

See more in Times Union.

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