Op-Ed: Film tax credit works

A view from the Hill

By State Rep. Daniel Webster
Duxbury Reporter
GateHouse News Service
Mar 25, 2010

DUXBURY — Recently, the governor proposed capping the state’s film tax credit at $50 million in Fiscal 2011 and Fiscal 2012. Currently, there is no cap on this tax incentive available to the emerging Massachusetts film industry. Between 2006 and 2008 roughly $166 million worth of credits helped generate 267 film, television or documentary productions. The number of credits distributed rose from $16 million in 2006 to $113 million in 2008 according to a Massachusetts Department of Revenue report.

These figures show that film executives are certainly interested in coming to do business here in the Bay State. In 2005, I had the opportunity to serve on the conference committee that ultimately produced the film tax credit plan enacted by the legislature.

This was a bipartisan effort to offer tax credits for qualifying motion picture and television productions looking to film in the Commonwealth. If a production company met certain financial requirements, the state would offer payroll and production tax credits in order to attract future projects.

A 2010 University of Massachusetts report states that “between 2005 and the third quarter of 2008, the number of motion picture production employees, post production and other employees and independent artists in the Commonwealth grew 117 percent, 126 percent and 8 percent respectively.” Additionally, although many employees working on these productions do not permanently work in Massachusetts, they spend money here, pumping millions of dollars into our state economy. These increases in employment and spending that would otherwise have not occurred, came at a time when the state economy was contracting and job losses in other sectors continued to rise.

If statistics prove the tax credit has spurred economic growth, then my question is this: Why would the governor jeopardize a program that is clearly helping the Massachusetts economy grow? The governor’s thinking is misguided and shortsighted. If the legislature were to adopt this proposal, it would once again send an anti-business message to an emerging industry. The film tax credit program is working and will continue to work.

The production of more films in the state means more revenues from hotels, restaurants, countless other Massachusetts vendors and the potential construction of permanent production lots with permanent jobs for our residents. We need to encourage businesses to come here and get people back to work. Statistics prove the film industry is breathing life back into our flagging economy.

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