Empire State Film Tax Credit Bill Gets Assembly Passage

Albany, NY – Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D,I,WF-Forestburgh) announced Assembly passage of legislation that would expand the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit Program to the Hudson Valley (A.9415/S.6987).

“The Hudson Valley has a right to every economic advantage available in other parts of the state,” said Assemblywoman Gunther. “We are fortunate to live in an area rich in natural beauty, historic architecture, and extraordinary talent. Increasing opportunities for film production in our region will potentially bring billions of dollars into our economy, creating jobs and supporting businesses of all kinds, from restaurants to retail; hardware to software. For years, movies set in the Catskills have been filmed anywhere but in the Catskills. My great hope is this legislation will go a long way to making that a thing of the past.”

To boost film production outside of New York City, the 2013-14 State Budget included language to create an additional 10% film tax credit for “Upstate” counties. However, bizarrely, Hudson Valley counties, including Sullivan, Ulster, and Orange were not considered “Upstate” for the purposes of the credit and have been unable to tap into this lucrative economic development opportunity. This legislation amends the law to include those counties excluded in 2013.

Passage of the legislation has come with the support of countless organizations, actors, film industry professionals, and elected officials, including Ulster County Executive Mike Hein who highlighted this issue earlier this year.

“The expansion of the Film Tax Credit means that the entertainment industry can expand and create a new segment within our growing creative economy and has the potential to become a major driving economic force locally, as well as throughout the Hudson Valley,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. “My administration has been highlighting the disparity in the current program that is negatively impacting Ulster County and, as a result, there was a groundswell of grassroots support for this amendment. I want to commend and thank Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther for her leadership on this issue and for sponsoring the bill in the Assembly as well as Senators Larkin and Amedore for his sponsorship in the Senate. If this bill is ultimately signed into law, our area would be poised to experience a potentially huge economic boost from not only the on-site production of films, but also the siting of studios and post-production facilities as well. This may prove to be some of the most important legislation our area has seen over the past ten years.”

“In November, the City of Middletown became home to the largest sound stage in the State of New York,” said Mayor Joseph DeStefano. “This legislation ensures the long-term viability of this business and will allow the City of Middletown and the entire Hudson Valley to realize tremendous untapped potential. My administration has been dedicated to growing a robust and diverse economy in the City, and we’ve seen great success. Allowing productions in Orange County to access the 10% credit will further enhance our growth. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther has once again proven herself a true champion for the people she represents.”

Catskill Mountainkeeper Executive Director Ramsay Adams said, “The hamlets in Sullivan, Ulster, and Orange Counties are Upstate New York and deserve access to the credit. These communities boast an endless number of unspoiled locations to choose from to get the perfect shot, and they would all benefit from the increased tourism revenue. From the pre- to post-production credits this program offers, it will make our area an even better choice. A healthy economy is a diverse economy that embraces, but doesn’t exploit, our natural resources. Assemblywoman Gunther understands this, which is why she has been a staunch and steadfast advocate for the Catskills. Her leadership on this issue further demonstrates that.”

“The Hudson Valley Film Commission is overjoyed with the legislation that has passed the New York State Senate and Assembly, which will extend the New York State Film Production Tax Credit to the Mid-Hudson Valley Counties,” said Laurent Rejto, director of the Hudson Valley Film Commission. “We are extremely grateful for the support and leadership of Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, State Senator George Amedore, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, and the many others who helped pass this legislation. These additional tax credits will allow the Mid-Hudson Valley region to compete on a level playing field for billions of dollars in film and TV production revenue. This legislation will create revenue opportunities for local vendors; create a steady demand for services and hospitality; promote the region nationally and around the globe; increase opportunities so that current local industry members don't need to travel from the region for work; increase opportunities for youth so they can work locally; create more regional opportunities for industry union members; and generate investments in local infrastructure through productions, new businesses and jobs. It’s a win-win for the region and the entire state.”

“I am very pleased with the passage of this important legislation that will extend eligibility for the Film Production Tax Credit to Sullivan County,” said Luis Alvarez, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature. “There is no doubt in my mind that Sullivan County’s beautiful and diverse landscape will be very attractive to companies searching for the perfect location to film. Having the financial incentive in the form of a 10% tax credit available will open the door for so many opportunities, and I am grateful to Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther for her sponsorship of this legislation and dedication to the economic development of Sullivan County.”

The legislation has been passed in the New York State Senate under the sponsorship of Senator George Amedore and soon will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his consideration.