N.Y. state lawmakers adopt film, TV budget

Includes multiyear tax credit program worth $420 mil annually

NEW YORK -- After a long delay, New York state lawmakers adopted final parts of their budget late Tuesday, including a long-awaited five-year film and TV production incentives program worth $420 million annually.

The entertainment industry here has long sought a multiyear tax credit to attract productions for the long term, particularly TV shows.

"The program is an investment in jobs for New Yorkers," New York Production Alliance executive director John Johnston said. "The governor and legislature should be congratulated for their farsighted support of a program that returns more to the state than it costs and keeps and creates jobs for New Yorkers -- jobs that could have gone to other states."

This year's N.Y. budget is one of the latest to pass in state history. In 2004, it took politicians in the state capital of Albany until Aug. 11 to finalize a budget. The final step that was concluded Tuesday evening was the state senate's approval of final portions of the budget.

The production incentives are part of the budget's revenue-generating measures as industry folks have shown with the help of an Ernst & Young study that the tax credits boost tax revenue, jobs and the local economy.

The budget calls for a continuation of N.Y.'s 30% tax credit for film and TV productions through 2014, with some fine-tuning of eligibility criteria designed to focus the benefits on state businesses.

The incentives, worth $2.1 billion over five years, would be larger than the one-time $350 million production-incentives allocation made last year that ended up being exhausted early this year.

New York had a disappointing TV pilot season this year, which industry folks attributed to the uncertain future of the tax incentives. The state usually gets more than a dozen TV pilots each season (it had 20 in 2008), but this season it only had four, according to the state film and TV office. In addition, several indie films went to Michigan and other states.

Johnston late Tuesday lauded his industry peers for great teamwork on pushing the incentives bill.

"The entire N.Y. production industry worked collectively through NYPA and other organizations as well as individually," he said.