Empire Center President E.J. McMahon spoke with WGRZ’s Danny Spewak about the announcement that New York will be giving CBS at least $11 million in tax incentives to keep “The Late Show” in New York. Click here to view the clip.
The “Late Show” on CBS will stay in New York City when Stephen Colbert replaces David Letterman in 2015, but the agreement announced Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo also makes the network eligible for at least $11 million in tax incentives.
The agreement, which also provides $5 million for studio renovations, falls under the Excelsior Jobs Program, which typically applies to “high tech” companies such as manufacturers and bio-tech companies.
In a media release, Cuomo touted the announcement as a way to keep the show “where it belongs” and retain 200 year-round jobs.
E.J. McMahon, the president of the non-profit Empire Center for Public Policy, railed on the tax incentives on Wednesday, calling them the “latest in a series of giveaways to the entertainment industry.” The state also subsidized NBC’s “Tonight Show” when Jimmy Fallon took over and moved the show from Los Angeles to New York City.
“We’re going to basically pay CBS,” McMahon said, “to keep the Letterman Show where it already is.”
Republican State Senator Patrick Gallivan said Wednesday that the deal “raises questions.” However, although he wasn’t involved in the discussion of the tax incentives, he doesn’t necessarily oppose tax breaks for the entertainment industry.
Gallivan pushed through legislation in 2013 to offer a ten-percent wage bump to employees working on a film in either upstate or Western New York, designed as a way to promote the industry in this region of the state.
“Any time we can keep a business in New York, that’s a good thing,” Gallivan said. “I guess the question that comes up is: ‘at what cost?'”
For McMahon, any cost is too high.
“This is really difficult to justify,” McMahon said. “Ask yourself, why are we paying CBS to continue producing a show in New York, when we’re not paying any other employers in any other industry to do anything in New York?”
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