LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Boston Sunday Globe
February 28, 2010
‘Transient’ jobs? Ask the folks who count on them
JOAN FITZGERALD and Peter Enrich’s Feb. 19 op-ed “State should yell ‘cut’ to film tax credit’’ offers the usual ivy-covered, statistically generated commentary to this debate. If they stepped out of their offices at Northeastern University and sauntered to where wage earners are struggling to meet mortgage payments, they might reassess the value of “transient’’ jobs.
In Dorchester and South Boston during the summer production season, on the set of the “The Zookeeper,’’ just one of the movies then in production, they would have seen many employees who were happy with their transient union jobs. At the Franklin Park Zoo set, where I worked, there were more than 100 employees for a number of months. They included carpenters, plasterers, painters, greenspersons, Teamsters, dressers, electricians, and laborers, many who had been laid off from other industries.
These jobs that some would call statistically insignificant kept families together and talent in Massachusetts. Perhaps from the heights of academia, these jobs might not matter. I can only assume that the tax revenues generated from hotels, food, tools, first aid, snacks, and general living expenses are equally unimportant to their statistics.
“Project-by-project’’ jobs are how my fellow movie workers and many in the other trades earn their livings.
Program is hardly ‘a losing bargain’
RE “STATE should yell ‘cut’ to film tax credit’’ by Joan Fitzgerald and Peter Enrich (Op-ed, Feb. 19): The writers miss the mark on several fronts. Oddly, they make no reference to UMass Boston’s independent 18-month study of the local economic impact of the local film industry since 2006. According to this study, nearly 7,000 jobs were created in 2008 alone. Even if you attribute only 75 percent of those jobs to the state’s tax credit, the cost per job is only $18,000. Fitzgerald and Enrich were correct about one thing: Film jobs pay an average annual salary of $68,000. Hardly a “losing bargain.’’
They are also mistaken when they define the success of this credit by revenue returned to the treasury. The purpose of this credit is to stimulate the state economy. According to the Revenue Department’s figures for the first four years of the program, it has done exactly that, to the tune of more than $1 billion. The cost to taxpayers? One dime for every new dollar generated.
Finally, the writers seem sure that this tax credit will cost more than $100 million a year. And yet, according to the Revenue Department, during the first four years of the program the actual cost of the credit has averaged $27 million per year.
These are the facts, and they are not in dispute.
Massachusetts Production Coalition
Shallow way to augment the state economy
RE “FILM tax credit boosts state, shouldn’t be subject to cap’’ (Editorial, Feb. 14): The film tax credit that the Globe endorsed is a shallow way to augment the state economy. It results in a quick fix that wears off once the film crew leaves. The only moviegoers who remember where the film was made are those who live there. Meanwhile, long-term, committed enterprises of the Commonwealth struggle under higher taxes and fees, and those drive business away or are a disincentive for new business to locate here. Are the temp jobs created by this gift to Hollywood worth more than the long-term employment fostered by a generally lower-cost business environment? Hardly.