New York politicians who slammed the Amazon agreement claim they are basically opposed to company subsidies. Sweetheart agreements are "highly discredited economic development policies", said Prime Minister Michael Gianaris, perhaps the most incredible HQ2 opponent.
City councilor Jimmy Van Bramer also called the HQ2 agreement a "scam", where Amazon shook New York and "picked his pockets."
Hypocrisy much? Gianaris and Van Bramer both support grants to their favorite industry – namely film and television producers.
Gianari's objections are particularly rich. This vocal critic of taxpayer support for large, rich corporations has long been a prominent New York State Film Tax Credit cheerleader, providing studios with tax credits based on the amount of money they spend on film or television production in the Empire State. 1
The deal that Amazon would receive was $ 3 billion in tax deductions and other goodies, which is a great deal even when spread over 20 years. But the film industry gets at least $ 420 million a year (although less conservative estimates put the figure at $ 650 million) and the money comes in the form of refundable tax credits.
This means that the credit can be redeemed on receipt or sold to another entity, which may not even do anything in the state. Over the years, movie and TV studios have raked in billions of dollars in cash from New York taxpayers with this fine trick.
Gianaris praised the film tax credit. He was an original sponsor of the program. And he has strongly suggested the renewal. He compared it to an investment, like a family 401 (k), and called it "the most successful economic development program in the last decade," given all the jobs it has created.
At the same time as the chair of the city council's cultural committee, van bramer has been a major booster of city support for the film industry, which includes free permits, free places, free police protection and no sales tax on production-related "consumables" as well as various monetary grant programs and free buses marketing and subway.
Yes, many movies and TV shows are being filmed in New York City. But it is less clear whether this is due to all the cash handles we give to the manufacturers. For one thing, according to data from the Federal Reserve, the number of motion pictures and sound recordings jobs in New York has not changed much since 2013.
Then many of the performances and movies we are paying for would also be filmed here anyway: Can anyone imagine say that "Saturday Night Live", which has received close to $ 50 million in tax credits, will pull up the effort and start the movie in New Jersey or Toronto if the subsidies dry up?
That's why EJ McMahon of the Empire Public Policy Center has called the grant "the biggest and most outrageous corporate giveaway on the books in New York today – bar none."
So why do Gianaris and Councilman Van Bramer love the film production tax Credit so much, even though it is – like the Amazon plan – obviously a bribe against an incredibly rich industry?
Take a look at their campaign financing archives.
Gianaris, who started his career at the feet of Shame Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, the pay-to-play champion, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from Silvercup Studios, Broadway Stages and Kaufman Astoria Studios, as well as from Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, which everyone expects The extra business that comes from the studios gets a 30 percent discount on their costs.
Van Bramer has also received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the owners of local audio stations.
It may be that the Film Tax Credit program is a very effective way to give billions of tax dollars to private companies to get them to hire New Yorkers. But that is the same argument from the supporters of the Amazon agreement, which was ruthlessly mocked as sellouts by the leftists who saved it. Michael Gianaris and Jimmy Van Bramer should explain why some companies deserve our money and others don't – and let's hope they donated to my campaign is not the main excuse.
Seth Barron is affiliated with the editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.