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Snap Poll: Majority opposes film tax credits

64% against New York’s program to lure productions to state

New York continues to offer the film and television industry the largest tax breaks in the nation.

Gannett’s Albany Bureau reports that New York gives $420 million in film tax credits a year, with 48 productions receiving $180 million between April and June. Three CBS shows—Madam Secretary, Elementary and Person of Interest—received the largest tax credits, a combined $79.6 million for four seasons in the most recent state records.

New York claims its program “drives billions of dollars in New York State spending and generates hundreds of thousands of jobs each year,” Howard Zemsky, the president of Empire State Development, which manages the program, said.

Critics disagree, with the Reclaim New York Initiative, a conservative group, calling the state’s reports “a fiction straight out of the Hollywood productions they’re forcing New York taxpayers to finance.”

Studios received about $42,300 for every direct job created in 2015 and 2016, according to an investigation by the USA Today Network in New York that was released in June.

This week’s Snap Poll asked readers their opinions on New York’s film tax-credit program.

Nearly 400 respondents participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Oct. 3 and 4.

How do you feel about New York’s tax breaks for film and television productions in the state?

Strongly support:10%

Support: 25%

Oppose: 27%

Strongly oppose: 37%

COMMENTS:

It just demonstrates how corrupt our state government, and especially the governor, is. First, a propaganda series to promote Hillary’s campaign. Then the state pays 40% of the production costs to left-wing media moguls who, in turn, donate it back to Cuomo and other leftist liberals. Money laundering at its finest! And it started out as our money.

—Jim Cronin

I support tax credits but not at current levels. We need to review what NYS offers in comparison to other competitive states and then reduce the tax incentive to a highest level but closer to competition or meet current 2nd highest and add other incentives.

—Dorothy Egan

As the former executive director of the High Falls Film Festival, I can attest personally to the revenue the film production tax credits have brought into New York State. Filmmakers can choose just about anywhere in the world to make their movies, based on their own locations and content, so they usually review the best options and choose the places that will cost them the least. Tax credits bring these filmmakers into New York State, where they purchase goods and services, hire local crews, cast local extras and smaller roles, and spend small fortunes on hotel rooms and food. We cannot take this income for granted—plenty of films have been shot in Vancouver instead of New York City because they look fairly similar at ground level. We must make New York State as attractive as possible to attract this revenue.

—Randi Minetor

Why should people with average incomes support industries and people/performers with multi-million dollar incomes? Let them pay their own ways. There needs to be a federal law against this kind of bidding. Use those taxes to pay for the nuclear power plant bailout. This practice is disgusting!

—Art North, Penfield

This is just another example of our state lawmakers’ frivolous spending habits with no detailed facts to back up their claims. Similar to all the money taxpayers spent on signs on our state highways advertising New York and now we are spending millions to fight the DOT for breaking the law putting them up to begin with. There needs to be some kind of independent control on how taxpayer money is spent. Obviously our lawmakers are not willing to fight off the lobbyists.

—Grant Osman

At this point I support, but would love to see the credits spread around the state more. A big question that needs to be answered honestly is, if these credits were not in place, would these jobs leave the state? Also, what is the total received/benefit in/to the state for hotels, food, donations, store visits, etc. for the productions? We have had some filming in the region that seems to drive some positive economic benefits by having a crew filming around for several weeks. On the flip side, if we are spending more than we are getting benefit-wise, then it may be time to reduce or eliminate the credits. For example, if the credits or totals “New York taxpayers finance” cost $420M, but drive $500M+ through jobs, spending, tourism, etc. of benefits, then I continue to support the credits as a vehicle to drive revenue.

—Keith Newcomer

It’s like almost all tax breaks for businesses: expensive and of little real value to the average person. Only politicians are stupid enough to think it useful.

—Mark Wilson

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