GOP New York State Sen. Rob Ortt called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature to remove the Empire State Film Tax Credits from the fiscal year 2020 budget and shift its $420 million cost to fund health, education, direct support and veterans’ needs.
Ortt’s camp said, “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 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,” Ortt said. “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.”
Ortt’s camp said, “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.”
The senators featured a sign and provided handouts showing the dramatic shift leading Democrats have taken on the issue. Cuomo, who has supported and expanded the program since taking office, recently suggested the credit be eliminated to fund other priorities. Democratic Sen. and Finance Chairwoman 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 the Senate would not end the credit.