Gov. Kathy Hochul is proposing to extend and expand a tax break for film and TV productions as part of the record-smashing $227 billion budget she proposed Wednesday — months after taking big Hollywood money while running for a full term in office.
“It’s just atrocious and abysmally bad public policy,” John Kaehny, executive director of the good government group Reinvent Albany, told The Post.
“It’s a very public display of how pay-to-play and special interest politics completely warp how government works here and how our tax dollars are spent.”
The newly-elected governor is proposing to increase the controversial tax break from $420 million to $700 million in the fiscal year that begins April 1 while extending the credit for five more years to 2034.
Productions would also see rebates from the state increase from 25% to 30% of their total eligible costs.
Such a move would supposedly protect 57,000 jobs in the state while making New York more competitive against states like New Jersey as they expand their own benefits to lure productions.
That would benefit a litany of Hollywood luminaries like filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who gave the maximum $47,100 to her campaign last year, along with his wife Kate Capshaw, roughly a year after taking advantage of the tax credit while directing “West Side Story.”
Hochul has claimed that her fundraising does not affect her fiscal judgment.
“Nothing I do in a budget is driven by politics, election outcomes. I’m guided by what’s best for New Yorkers,” she told reporters Wednesday.
Past research suggests the tax credit has wasted billions of dollars in taxpayer money over the past two decades.
“Since 2004 New York State has allocated $7.8 billion in tax incentives to the film and television industry—almost enough to build two Mario M. Cuomo bridges or two Freedom Towers,” reads a 2020 study by the good government group Citizens Budget Commission. “But despite sustained and growing investment, the film tax credit has not produced enough value for New Yorkers, and should be eliminated.”
The fact that Hochul is sticking by the credit, despite the growing body of research about its effectiveness, raises a disturbing question, according to Reinvent Albany.
“Either her advisors are badly misinformed or her administration is totally cynical and swimming in pay to play,” reads a statement from the group.
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