Weinberg – Latest Report Highlights Christie Failure On Film Tax Credit

Analysis Shows New York City Reaping Economic Benefit of New Jersey’s Short-Sighted Policies to Support Film Industry

TRENTON – On the heels of a report that New York City is reaping dividends from an aggressive film tax program, State Senator Loretta Weinberg today blasted the Christie Administration’s short-sighted policies which have driven film and television production across the river and urged Republican lawmakers to stand with Democrats to restore and expand the State’s film tax credit program.

“At a time when New York is creating job opportunities and boosting its own economy through the State’s film tax credit program, New Jersey has essentially made a policy decision to give up on the thousands of jobs and millions of dollars a robust film industry would bring to the State,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “Legislative Democrats have fought to make Governor Christie and his Administration see the light on his short-sighted policies regarding the film tax credit. Now we have independent verification that those policies are literally costing New Jersey residents money and jobs.”

The report by Crain’s New York Business, released last week, indicated that film and television production in New York City is experiencing a renaissance, despite the fact that other sectors of the economy are still slow to rebound from the recent global economic crisis. According to Crain’s, the number of television and film production jobs in New York City jumped to 43,000, an increase of 22 percent over the previous year. Annual job growth overall during the time period in question was flat.

Film executives attributed the gains solely to the expansion of the Empire State Film Tax Credit last year, which covers up to 30 percent of the production costs of a film or TV series. Senator Weinberg noted that, without the expansion of New York’s film tax credit and New Jersey’s failure to renew the program, many of the film and television production jobs would have stayed in the Garden State, where overall production costs are cheaper.

“If not for the Empire State Film Tax Credit and New Jersey’s own failure to maintain a decent tax credit program, the films and television series which shot in New York would have likely chosen Northern New Jersey or other parts of the State,” said Senator Weinberg. “When the film tax credit was first closed down, we saw long-time programs like Law and Order: SVU, and new programs like Boardwalk Empire choose to film in New York instead of New Jersey, despite higher production costs, because New Jersey’s film tax credit program just couldn’t compete. The Governor has continually said that the film tax credit program doesn’t make fiscal sense, but the report by Crain’s seems to suggest otherwise.”

The report by Crain’s also noted that film production carries many ancillary economic benefits beyond simply core production hires. The movie Arthur, starring Russell Brand, spent more than $26 million with local vendors, and made more than 4,300 local hires, including 1,043 crew members, when it shot in New York for 48 days in 2010.

“Fort Lee, New Jersey was the birthplace of the motion picture industry, but we’ve since allowed the rest of the country to pass us by in supporting a film and television production,” said Senator Weinberg, who represents Fort Lee in the 37th Legislative District. “Even during difficult economic times, film and TV productions still shoot, and still contribute to the economic well-being of their host communities. I urge the Governor to reconsider his position on the New Jersey film and television tax credit program, so we can begin to recapture the jobs, economic output and tax dollars which follow a big-budget movie or TV series. Barring that, I hope my Republican colleagues in the Legislature will do the right thing and help us advance an aggressive tax credit program with a veto-proof majority to strengthen New Jersey’s economic outlook moving forward.”