HARTFORD, CT – The debate regarding the effectiveness of Connecticut’s tax credits to attract film and television productions hit the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee on Thursday.

A bill was proposed this legislative session to eliminate the state’s tax credit program. Opponents and supporters of the bill packed the room, ready to make their arguments regarding the tax credits which began in 2007.

“The elimination of this tax credit unlocks an opportunity for Connecticut to make our tax system more progressive, and also provide immediate relief for low and moderate income families through a state level child tax credit,” said Nick Teeling, Advocacy Director, Connecticut Voices for Children. “While the film industry is a sector in our economy, given the state’s limited financial resources, we ask the legislature to consider whether these tax credits would be better served by directly targeting support for Connecticut’s low and middle income families.”

Teeling took a moment to lay out his argument against the tax credit in numbers.

“Connecticut experiences a net loss in tax revenue by providing film industry tax credits,” he said. “According to tax data on the tax credits from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut has lost in net state revenue on average more than $60 million a year, and a total of nearly $900 million from 2007 through 2023.”

Jonathan Black, owner of Chair 10 Productions and a member of the Producers Guild of America, testified with his own numbers to show the potential economic impact of one of his projects.

“On our next production, we will employ 135 employees. We will spend about $3.2 million. Our labor spend will be about $1.7 million, but here’s the fun catch – goods and services, $885,000. Hotel spend, $76,000. Car and truck rentals, $110,000. Food and catering, $69,000. All of that is taxable. So you’re not just looking at employee taxes, but everything we do is taxed.”

Legislators heard arguments from both sides of the debate but asked tough questions about the sustainability of the tax credits.

“We had testimony earlier about the sustainability of this industry. Are we propping up a business that can’t survive on its own? Is there a difference between the investment we might make as a state in a business we’re trying to bring here versus one that we’re trying to maintain here?” asked state Rep. Maria Horn, D-Salisbury.

“The complaint I hear is that the film tax credit hasn’t shown a return on investment,” said Robert Amodio, co-chair of the Connecticut Film and TV Alliance. “Part of the reason is that there was a moratorium created in the past that stopped feature film productions from coming to shoot in the state and receiving the tax benefit. How can we justify not seeing a return on investment when we aren’t allowed, by mandate, to bring that revenue to our state?”

Thirty-six other states and nine out of Canada’s 10 provinces offer some form of tax benefit to the movie and television industries, making it extremely competitive to draw film productions to the state.

Connecticut has had some success in drawing television productions, luring the Jerry Springer Show, the Steve Wilkos Show and Deal or No Deal to the state in 2009. In addition, several major movie productions have shot in whole or part in the state, including 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull at Yale University and Revolutionary Road, which shot at Sasco Beach in Fairfield, as well as other locations around Connecticut.