Lights, camera … major NJ taxpayer ripoff?
The Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act — reinstated by Gov. Phil Murphy — offers generous tax credits to film and TV production companies filming in New Jersey.
And while some are praising the program as a way to generate economic activity and good publicity for Jersey, one state lawmaker has his doubts.
State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris, argues there’s no actual proof this program will benefit New Jersey. In fact, he said, the Office of Legislative Services has determined the state could actually lose $425 million in revenue over 5 years as a result of it.
“We’ve written the state auditor a letter saying, 'Look, especially since the Office of Legislative Services, which is our legal arm in Trenton, agrees that this is a lousy program, we want it investigated.'"
He said he wants Auditor Stephen Eells to take a year and write a report about the impact of the program.
“Tell us exactly how much money we’ve made, or quite frankly, how much money we’ve lost," Pennacchio said. "Hopefully we can use that as pressure next year to get rid of that line item in the budget.”
Pennacchio said the new law does not offer incentives to film and TV companies to do a certain amount of business in New Jersey.
“We have a budget that we almost shut the state down for, that’s increased almost 6 percent, that’s raised taxes by almost $2 billion, and yet we’re giving $425 million away to the Hollywood intelligencia?” he said.
He said it’s not surprising the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission is thrilled about the program.
“If somebody was giving me a $425 million gift I’d be trumpeting how great it is also,” he said.
Pennacchio wondered: “Why are we incentivizing this one industry? Why don’t we incentivize mom-and-pops dry cleaners and little bodegas? Why are we going and incentivizing this, 'cause it’s sexy?”
He added “it’s a problem, the taxpayers are being stuck with the bill.”
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