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Lawmakers Urge Renewal Of NJ Tax Credit For Filmmaking

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Two North Jersey Democrats launched their latest appeal for renewal of a tax credit for production companies that film movies or television shows in New Jersey.

LISTEN: WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reports


Sens. Loretta Weinberg and Paul Sarlo say the Film and Digital Media Tax Credit Program creates jobs and drives the economy.

For ten years, "Law & Order SVU'' was shot in New Jersey. But when the state's TV and film tax credit expired, the show moved to New York City. Sarlo wants the credit restored.

"We can create jobs and we can can make money for the State of New Jersey," he said.

Jen Livesey with MediaMix Studios said when they do productions, they support local businesses.

"Catering all over the place for breakfast, lunch and dinner," she said. "We're running to Kohl's, we're running all day long with money in our pockets."

But the Christie administration maintains that film industry tax credits produce disappointing economic results.

Gov. Christie suspended the credit after taking office, saving $10 million. He then vetoed Democrats' attempt to reinstate it at an increased level of $50 million.

The Senate Democrats were pushing a nearly identical proposal Wednesday, asking again for Republican support.

The Democrats cite an Ernst & Young study they commissioned in 2008 that showed increasing the film tax credit from $10 million to $30 million would bring 4,350 new high-paying jobs in five years, generating $311 million in new wages and nearly $1 billion in economic output by production companies.

But a 2010 study by the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, supports the administration's view.

"Movie production incentives (MPIs) such as film tax credits, cash rebates, grants and select tax exemptions fail to spur economic growth or raise tax revenue,'' the study showed.

Christie vetoed a $420,000 credit to MTV's "Jersey Shore'' reality show in May because he said the show hurts the state's image.

Weinberg and Sarlo made their latest appeal in Fort Lee, which was the nation's motion picture capital until losing out to California in the 1910s when filmmakers discovered they could work year-round in the more temperate climate.

In addition to the state's loss of "Law & Order SVU," the show "Boardwalk Empire" which is based in Atlantic City, receives a tax break for filming on Long Island.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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