MIDDLETOWN – Local leaders took a victory lap at the Michelson Studio II in Middletown on Tuesday to tout the economic benefits of a recent expansion into our region of tax breaks for film production.

The law, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Nov. 4, added 12 counties, including Orange, Ulster and Sullivan, to those eligible to receive the film production tax break.

The credit allows productions with budgets of more than $500,000 to apply for a 10 percent tax credit on the wages or salaries of film crews – excluding writers, directors, music directors, producers, performers and actors. The state allocates $5 million a year for the tax credit up to 2019.

The credit is in addition to a 30 percent fully refundable tax credit statewide for film production worth $420 million a year.

Speaking at the studio Tuesday, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, the bill’s sponsor, praised the efforts by a slew of those in the industry and elected officials to push for the expansion.

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, who in February pushed for the credit during his State of the County address, said the additional tax breaks can “open up an entirely new and sustainable” part of the Hudson Valley economy.

Though the expansion was lauded by local officials, the tax break has critics.

The Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank based in Albany, has pointed to some studies that show film tax breaks show little return on investment. Ken Girardin, an Empire Center analyst, says the incentive may make sense in New York City but hasn’t paid off outside the Big Apple. He questioned officials who supported the credit.

“They are incorrectly accepting the premise that the state should be doing this in the first place and trying to get a bigger piece for their constituents,” Girardin said.

Girardin criticized the incentive as going to the “politically wired” film and television industry over the bulk of ordinary businesses in New York.

“The film and television incentives are arguably the most egregious type of corporate welfare that New York has ever cooked up,” Girardin said.

State lobbying records show that the bill was one of many that was lobbied on in Albany this year by film groups like the Motion Picture Association of America, the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and the Theatrical Teamsters Local 817.

But Laurent Rejto, commissioner of the Woodstock-based Hudson Valley Film Commission, said he’s seen big productions interested in filming in our region, like the movie “Joy” starring Jennifer Lawrence, move to other states or countries for bigger tax breaks.

Despite resistance from New York City studio interests, he said the expansion will increase opportunities for blue collar workers, local young people, union members, local studio owners and bring more film production and post-production in our area.

“We really hope we can compete again on a level playing field,” Rejto said.

Eric Michelson, owner of the 60,000-square-foot Michelson Studio II, said his massive sound stage will now become more attractive and competitive because of the expansion.

“We have 60-foot ceilings. Our biggest competitors have 40 down in New York City,” Michelson said.

© 2016 Times Herald-Record

You may also like

State’s Growing Budget Hole Threatens NYC Jobs and Aid as Congress Takes a Holiday

“The biggest problem for the state is the enormous, recurring structural budget gap starting next year and into the future,” said E.J. McMahon of the conservative-leaning Empire Center. “Cuomo clearly hopes that starting in 2021, (Democratic presidential candidate Joseph) Biden and a Democratic Congress will provide states and local government a couple of year’s worth of added stimulus. Read More

How Andrew Cuomo became ‘maybe the most powerful governor’ in U.S.

Ed McKinley ALBANY — When the New York Constitution was reorganized nearly 100 years ago to give the governor more power over the budget process,  noted there was a risk of making “the governor a czar." M Read More

Study disputes Cuomo on Trump tax package; experts say it’s complicated

Michael Gormley ALBANY — A new study by a conservative think tank says President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law gave most New Yorkers a tax cut, even as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo insists on repealing the measure because he says it will cost New Yo Read More

Empire Center sues Department of Health over nursing home records

Johan Sheridan ALBANY, N.Y. () — The Empire Center filed a  against the state Department of Health on Friday. “This case isn’t about assigning blame or embarrassing political leaders,” said Bill Hammond, the Empire Center’s Read More

Good news: That New York pork isn’t going out the door after all

The Empire Center first reported Tuesday that grants — 226 of them, totaling $46 million, to recipients selected by the governor and individual state lawmakers — seemed to still be going ahead. Read More

New York Lawmakers Seek Independent Probe of Nursing-Home Coronavirus Deaths

With lingering questions about how the novel coronavirus killed thousands of New Yorkers who lived in nursing homes, a group of state lawmakers is pushing to create an independent commission to get answers from the state Department of Health. Read More

Policy analyst: Cuomo wrong to write-off nursing home criticism as political conspiracy

“The importance of discussing this and getting the true facts out is to understand what did and didn’t happen so we can learn from it in case this happens again,” Hammond said. Read More

EDITORIAL: Nursing home report requires a second opinion

No doubt, the Health Department and the governor would like this report to be the final word on the subject. But if it’s all the same with them, we’d still like a truly independent review. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!