Salem News Editorial
March 25, 2010
The bipartisan effort that succeeded in preserving the film tax credit in Massachusetts Wednesday, represented a refreshing change from the all-or-nothing approach both Democrats and Republicans have adopted on Capitol Hill.
While the debate over health care reform has left Congress deeply split along party lines, on Beacon Hill this week the Democratic leadership and a unified Republican Party found common cause in fighting back an attempt by the Patrick administration to put a $50 million cap on tax credits extended to companies making movies in the Bay State.
That credit, according to state Department of Revenue figures, is responsible for creating thousands of jobs and generating more than $1 billion in direct spending in the commonwealth. But Gov. Deval Patrick and others argued that the state could no longer afford to be so generous with Hollywood producers and proposed reducing the amount of credits available from the current $100 million to as little as $7 million a year.
Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem, who chairs the Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, argued on the House floor that the tax credits have had enormous direct and indirect benefits for the state. He was joined by Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, who spoke about the positive impact the industry has had on the communities in his district.
Fortunately, opponents of the tax credit were able to garner only a maximum of 15 votes on their two amendments proposed to a midyear spending bill Wednesday.
“Ultimately the final tally was overwhelming to keep our tax policy stable and keep investing in one of the positive growth sectors of our economy,” Keenan declared in an e-mail message yesterday morning.
Indeed, with Bay State medical-device makers threatening to move their operations overseas as a result of a new tax included in the health reform legislation, that Hollywood money might be needed more than ever here.