POLITICO NJ: Lame duck legislation would further expand New Jersey’s film tax credit program

November 18, 2021 Media

New Jersey could increase its film and digital media tax credit for a second time since bringing the program back in 2018 — in part to add some star power to its productions — under legislation introduced this month at the start of the lame duck session.

Lawmakers hope the legislation will further expand the number of productions using New Jersey as a backdrop.

What they’re saying: Pat Garofalo — a New Jersey native who’s director of state and local policy at the Washington, D.C.-based American Economic Liberties Project, a progressive think tank — called the incentives a “race to the bottom” because states and even other countries keep outdoing each other in incentives to attract productions. The fact that this is New Jersey’s second expansion of the program in as many years demonstrates that, he said.

“The idea of subsidizing an industry from the state is you think it’s important and you want to give it support. But eventually that support will be taken away,” Garofalo said. “What happens with film is you just keep pouring millions and millions into it. I don’t believe that, even with these massive production facilities, when you turn the spigot off they’ll stay.”

Film tax credits, Garofalo said, are more attractive to politicians who can demonstrate quick and high-profile results.

“This competition is just hopeless. But the reason they survive is because it’s good for the local politicians to appear on set. And the filming occurring in your town is something that’s tangible and you can see,” Garofalo said. “It’s right there in your face. Famous people. It feels glamorous.”