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Giorgio: Charlie Baker is Wrong on the Film Tax Credit

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Paul Giorgio

Governor Charlie Baker is wrong on his plan to eliminate the tax credit for the film industry in Massachusetts. Currently the film tax credit allows anyone who spends at least $50,000 to take some tax deductions. The major one is the sales tax exemption. There is also a 25% production credit and a 25% payroll tax credit.

Because of this tax policy, Massachusetts has become Hollywood East, with numerous movies being filmed here each year. Major movies such as The Departed, Shutter Island, American Hustle and Sea of Trees have all been shot here in the past three years.  These tax credits create good jobs and stimulate the creative economy in our state.  Since its inception there have been about 100 movies filmed in the Commonwealth.

Worcester has benefited.

The City of Worcester has been a major beneficiary of Hollywood’s desire to film in the state.

We have had two major films shot almost exclusively in Worcester and about a half dozen other major pictures filming scenes here. American Hustle, was filmed extensively in the city, while the yet to be released Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConney spent  almost 2 moths shooting both in Worcester and at Sutton’s  Purgatory Chasm.

I saw firsthand the number of jobs these movies create. They filmed for over a week in my neighborhood. Local businesses such as Imeadia Sound benefited, since they rent a great deal of equipment to the production companies. Westerman’s restaurant Supply Company benefited-they now have a prop warehouse. About a hundred local extras were hired for both movies.

This in addition to hotel rooms that were booked in the area, food that was purchased and the union jobs these movies create.

There are also other benefits that can’t be quantified. These include the psychic benefits that local residents enjoy realizing the Hollywood has discovered there town. There is also promotional value related to the filming of a movie. A city is hip if it is discovered by Hollywood.

It appears that based on the tax credit bill a sound stage was built in Devan’s, Massachusetts and there was some talk of building one in Worcester. If the tax credits are eliminated those jobs will disappear as the movie industry discovers another state or stays in California.

$261 million spent on movie productions.

According to a study done by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, the tax credit has cost the state $80 million. That is a big number, but if we did not have the credit, it is likely that very few films will be shot here. The other side of that coin is that in 2012, $68 million was spent creating 700 full time jobs. Between 2006 and 2012, $261 million was spent in the Bay Sate by Hollywood production companies.

What is the money spent on?

What does that money get spent on?  As I stated before, they spend it on extras for movies and I know several people who have worked in several movies. They spend it on food bought from local restaurants. They spend it on local hotels. If they are building as set, they need material, which they buy locally.

I remember one weekend a couple of summers ago, when there were 2 movies and a Network pilot being filmed in Worcester at the same time.

I think there is a way for the Governor to get some savings without hurting the emerging Massachusetts movie industry.

Change the law, don’t eliminate it.

As the bill is currently structured, if a production company spends at least $50,000 they are entitled to the tax credit. Let’s up the limits, so that we attract major movies, which will spend upwards of $20 million on a production and create jobs in the Bay State. Let’s keep the whales and let the minnows go someplace else.


Related Slideshow: Central MA: 10 Possible Power Changes Under Governor Baker

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WHA and Ray Mariano Get Boost

Dr. David Schaefer, Political Science Professor at Holy Cross-

"I am particularly impressed that he (Baker) has taken an interest in the program that Ray Mariano has introduced into Worcester Housing Authority projects, aimed at getting residents off of welfare and housing subsidies and on to self-supporting work. Baker has expressed a desire to  extend this worthy program to all state-owned public housing. And he has thereby signified his interest in ideas emanating from Central MA - as well as in policies designed to benefit the area."

Prev Next

Cities Will Lose Out to Suburbs

Dr. Mark Miller, Political Science Professor at Clark University

"My only thought is that since the Republicans get most of their support from the suburbs, the central cities may suffer under a Republican administration.  I am sure it helps that the Lt. Governor is from Central Massachusetts, and I assume she knows all the players in Worcester.  But I would expect that the suburban communities will get more attention than Worcester will be able to obtain.  Since most of the key figures in Worcester are Democrats, they may find that they will have to work harder to get the attention of the new administration." 

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Beaton's Seat Becomes Key Player

Paul Giorgio, GoLocal Worcester MINDSETTER™-

"Matt Beaton has become a big player in the area. The election for his State Representative seat is on March 31st.  I can't imagine they're not going to pour as much money as they need to keep his seat Republican."

Hannah E. Kane, a member of the Shrewsbury Finance Committee is the Republican candidate. Jason Palitsch, vice chairman of the Shrewsbury School Committee, is the Democrat candidate.

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Worcester Could Become More Accessible

Tom Finneran, former Massachusetts Speaker of the House

"Lt. Governor Polito's first-hand knowledge and experience regarding transportation needs in Central Mass. mirrors Tim Murray's; look for the two of them working together in perfect harmony; Governor Baker will pay close attention and Central Mass. will be the beneficiary."

Within the next eighteen months, Governor Baker may have to get the Federal Railroad Administration to give a 'green light' to move forward with a project that will provide a commuter rail passage between Worcester and Providence.

The project, first reported in November, is being spearheaded by Boston Surface Railroad Co. If successful, it will be one of the few private commuter trains in the country. To date, it is an estimated $3 million dollar project.

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Influence Shifts to David Forsberg

David Forsberg, chairman of Governor Baker's campaign, is now in position to push his influence in the city. Forsberg, former President of Worcester Business Development Corporation, and Dean of School of Business at Anna Maria College, is a former Worcester city councilor and New England Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Forsberg, from Worcester, has an extensive background in state and local government and will have plenty of say in what happens in Central Mass.

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Murray and Polito Might Work Together

Dr. David Schaefer, Political Science Professor at Holy Cross-

"I am confident that given Karyn Polito's Central MA residency and Charlie Baker's several visits to this area during the campaign, Worcester will suffer no loss of influence or attention from the state under the Baker administration. In fact, Karyn, in connection with her family business, has served as a board member of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce during Tim Murray's directorship of that organization, and their relationship should facilitate continued influence for the Chamber, and Tim, under the new administration."

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Blais Could Gain Power in Central MA

Tom Finneran, former Massachusetts Speaker of the House-

"Tim Murray, Governor Baker, and Karen Polito share many concerns and ideas about the importance of economic development and job opportunities; sound budgets and sensible policies can create a certain momentum and confidence in investors and business leaders that Massachusetts is in capable hands."

Worcester Business Development Corporation President and CEO Craig Blais is now in position to garner support from Baker's administration. Former president, David Forsberg, was Baker's Campaign chairman. 

Blais is in charge of the $10 million non-profit WBDC. He has a political background. Blais worked in the State House as Chief of Staff for the House of Representatives. He reported to the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Services and Elderly Affairs.

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DPW and WRTA May Get Early Support

David Muradian (R), State Representative - Worcester's 9th District-

"Governor Baker has made a commitment to local infrastructure, and I am excited to continue to advocate for economic development and increased local aid to come back to our communities."

On Thursday, Governor Baker, in his first act as Governor, stated that he would release $100 million dollars to cities and towns from Chapter 90 funding. This money would go to reimbursement for transportation projects. 

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Sec. of Education Malone Out?

Tom Finneran, former Massachusetts Speaker of the House-

"Pay close attention to Governor Baker on education; he will be a strong an vocal leader, pushing communities to close achievement gaps and to provide meaningful and rigorous instruction to all students; Baker knows the history of education reform here in Mass. better than anyone in the state; watch him lead in this all-important area."

During his acceptance speech, Governor Baker said, "And while traditional public schools will always be the backbone of our education, we need more high performing public charter schools in underperforming school districts to complement them. As I speak, there are more than 45,000 Bay State kids and their parents on waiting lists for these schools."

Matthew Malone, who was appointed by former Governor Deval Patrick as Secretary of Education, may be out if Baker decides he wants someone that will take hold of his plans for more charter schools and see them put forth in the Bay State.

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Power Shift from Worcester to Shrewsbury

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito now holds the highest seat of anyone from Central Massachusetts in state government. Her position was formerly occupied by Tim Murray, now the director of Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Alongside Polito is Matt Beaton, also from Shrewsbury and recently appointed as Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

In a town that has already emerged as a rapidly growing community in the past few years, may not have to wait long for state funding and government support for any projects in the future. 


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