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Kathy Hochul wants to increase the ‘awful’ tax credit for her Hollywood donors to $700 million

Gov. Kathy Hochul is proposing to extend and expand a tax break for film and television productions as part of the record-breaking $227 billion budget she proposed on Wednesday — months after she took big Hollywood money during a full term.

“It’s just appalling and abysmal bad public policy,” John Kaehny, executive director of good government group Reinvent Albany, told The Post.

“It’s a very public demonstration of how pay-to-play and special-interest policies completely distort how government works here and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent.”

The newly elected governor proposes to extend the controversial tax break in the June 1

For productions, government rebates would also increase from 25% to 30% of their total eligible costs.


Gov. Kathy Hochul is hoping to expand film and television tax credits under her new belt-busting budget.
AP

Such a move would reportedly protect 57,000 jobs in the state and make New York more competitive with states like New Jersey as they expand their own advantages to attract productions.

“The proposed improvement to the film tax credit will grow the film industry and keep New York competitive in this very important sector of our economy, which has generated over $20 billion in spending and created 57,300 direct and prosecutorial jobs in the Empire State,” a spokesman said for Empire State Development, which oversees the tax credit, said.

That would benefit a litany of Hollywood luminaries like filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who along with his wife Kate Capshaw donated the maximum of $47,100 to their campaign last year, about a year after claiming the tax credit, when he directed West Side Story.

Some lawmakers are skeptical of Hochul’s proposal to keep the tax credit in place for so long.

“The state is currently undergoing an independent audit of economic development spending to determine which programs provide a return on taxpayer investment and which do not. It would be most responsible to freeze annual spending on these programs until the review is complete later this year,” said Sen. James Skoufis (D-Newburgh).

Hochul has claimed that her fundraising does not affect her tax judgment.

“Nothing I do in a household is dictated by politics or election results. I’m guided by what’s best for New Yorkers,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

Previous research suggests that the tax credit has squandered billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars over the past two decades.


Steven Spielberg
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg is among the Hollywood bigwigs who have given Hochul big bucks while benefiting from the controversial tax credit
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

“Since 2004, New York State has provided $7.8 billion in tax incentives for the film and television industry – almost enough to build two Mario M. Cuomo Bridges or two Freedom Towers,” according to a study by the Citizens Budget Commission of 2020. “But despite continued and growing investment, the film tax credit hasn’t brought enough value to New Yorkers and should be abolished.”

The fact that hochul is sticking to recognition despite the growing body of research into its effectiveness raises a troubling question, according to Reinvent Albany.

“Either their advisers are grossly misinformed or their administration is totally cynical and awash with money to gamble,” the group said in a statement.


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