The legislature's Joint Committee on Revenue held a hearing yesterday to gather perspective on Governor Baker's plan to phase out the Film Tax Credit and double the Earned Income Tax Credit, a proposal that would have clear benefits for Gateway Cities.
The film credit was motivated by a need to spur job growth in industries that offer living wages, but by design it is a flawed approach. The tax incentive is an extremely inefficient way to create jobs because movie crews pick up and move at the end of each shoot. Taxpayers end up having to pay to keep them coming year after to year, a concern Secretary Ash thoughtfully articulated during the hearing.
Looking at 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, the Department of Revenue estimates that Massachusetts created 730 film-related jobs at a net cost to the state of $68 million. This works out to about $100,000 per job. These are all essentially temporary jobs. To make an apples-to-apples comparison with other economic development programs that create permanent jobs, we need to multiply the costs by the number of years we intend to keep this program in place. At the going rate, a 10-year stretch would put us at $1 million per job. This exceedingly high cost-per-job is the reason why there is universal agreement among independent experts that states can find far better opportunities to invest taxpayer dollars.
In sharp contrast, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is admired by economists of all stripes. Rigorous research shows the EITC has particularly large and lasting effects on the children of those receiving it, including gains in tests scores and college attendance, reduced teen birth rates, and higher future earnings. As detailed in our blog this week, Gateway Cities would disproportionately benefit from an increase in the EITC. Together, residents in these 26 communities garner 57 percent of the dollars the EITC distributes in Massachusetts. The Governor's proposal would inject at least $55 million annually directly into Gateway City economies.
Proponents of the credit have suggested that there are intangibles that cannot be measured, such as furthering the state's culture and increasing tourism. A far better way to achieve these things would be to invest in the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which supports artists and actors who live and work here and increases the vitality of our Gateway Cities. Since the film credit was created, Massachusetts has sent six times more money to the film industry than it has directed to the Cultural Council.
Despite many impressive accomplishments in our Gateway Cities, the Cultural Council has seen its budget cut in half over the past decade. For those who want to see more actors and set builders at work in our Gateway Cities, and more visitors drawn into them, investing in the Cultural Council would surely be better than sending dollars out of our economy with Hollywood actors.
- Ben Forman
Housing & Economic Development
A state board grants a $3.25 million tax credit to Amazon for its planned 1 million square foot distribution warehouse in an industrial park in Fall River.
Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter describes his visions for a vibrant and active downtown area and holds his inaugural Brockton Economic Summit, drawing in over 100 area business and civic leaders to discuss future development in the city.
Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas join EPA officials to announce plans to revitalize the Manchester and Lawrence Rail Road line.
The Center for Community Recovery Innovations, a subsidiary corporation of MassHousing, makes grants to support sober housing units for men, women, and veterans in Brockton and Worcester, RealEstateRama reports.
A $1.3 million project to expand downtown Leominster is set to begin soon.
Fitchburg residents and community leaders gather at a forum to discuss ways to improve neighborhoods north of Main Street, a project that has been awarded a $350,000 grant by the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.
SPARK Holyoke launches with an event showcasing how it will be a catalyst for new businesses, beginning with a nine-week program in May to help prospective business owners get started.
The city of Lawrence and Northern Essex Community College outline a proposal to build a $72 million public safety complex that would house the city's police department and training facilities for the State Police, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
The Republican reports on the Building on What Works Coalition's visit to Springfield.
State education commissioner Mitchell Chester calls for a state takeover of the Holyoke school system, State House News reports. Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse pens an op-ed on the likely state takeover of his city's schools, saying student achievement in Holyoke is unacceptably low and that everyone must commit to making receivership work, if it comes to that.
Salem offers its new superintendent, Margarita Ruiz, a contract for $180,300 a year, the Salem News reports.
Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham explores efforts to help families save for college in Chelsea and Lynn.
The Brookings Institution hosts an event on incorporating social-emotional skills into education policy. Panelists included Massachusetts's own, Chris Gabrieli.
Mass Audubon's Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary teams up with Crocker Elementary School in Fitchburg to provide a special Science Education Program, featuring field trips to the sanctuary and classroom support for science programs.
The National Science Foundation awards Holyoke Community College with a grant to fund 20 scholarships a year for the next five years for students in STEM fields.
Fitchburg City Council approves the sale of an old school building to a group providing housing for artists.
MassCreative brings creative leaders to the State House to argue that Arts Matter.
Worcester-area students would stay after college if the city had better public transportation and cooler amenities like coffee houses and stores.
The Baker administration reaches out to municipal leaders for ideas on how they can remove unfunded mandates and unnecessary regulation.
The Quincy Housing Authority considers a ban on smoking in the nearly 1,600 public housing units and the properties it oversees.
Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter appoints a task force to reconsider the controversial pay-as-you-throw trash program.
Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri announces the expansion of a community policing initiative that is focused on police, city, and community organizations working together with residents to root out sources of problems in neighborhoods.
New Bedford Rep. Antonio Cabral push a bill forward that would provide municipalities in Massachusetts state money to help repair roads damaged during the winter.
Two former New Bedford city solicitors argue the state Gaming Commission is treating the southeast region unfairly in the casino licensing process and could be jeopardizing developers' chances to lure investors.
A zoning proposal by the developers of a planned casino at the site of the Brockton Fairgrounds gives a preliminary look at the 250,000-square foot facility, which would include a 250-room hotel.
MGM breaks ground on an $800 million casino in Springfield, the Lowell Sun reports.
Communities & People
The Worcester Municipal Research Bureau hosts March Municipal Madness.
A community group of Latin-American women in Taunton hold the sixth annual women's event focused on health care and celebrating achievements in the community.
The Boston Globe takes a look at what it's like to live in Holyoke and asks what if Springfield where the state capital.