Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Deval.. what are you thinking?

From the Herald: At least one Dem has some sense.

Gov. Deval Patrick greenlighted the renewal of a controversial multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded giveaway to Hollywood stars yesterday, even as he signed a $27.05 billion budget that squeezes the Bay State for another $860 million in new taxes.

The tax credit is meant as an incentive to draw filmmakers to Massachusetts. Amid the ongoing fiscal crisis, legislators wanted to cap star salaries that could count toward the credit at $2 million per actor, and the fiscal 2010 budget Patrick signed ratified that.

But yesterday, Patrick also signed a $51 million supplemental spending bill for this year that prevents the cap from becoming law.

“This is money for nothing,” said Rep. Steven D’Amico, a Seekonk Democrat and tax credit foe. “Mel Gibson doesn’t need our tax dollars.”

A Patrick spokeswoman did not comment on the issue.

One State House source estimated the revenue lost by not imposing the star cap at about $20 million a year.

Beacon Hill sources said Patrick was responding to complaints Hollywood honchos lodged with the state film office that the proposed cap on star salaries was a major rewrite of tax law.

Senate President Therese Murray, whose Plymouth district could be home to a new studio, also supported maintaining the full tax credit for movies.

The new state budget, which takes effect tomorrow, hikes the state sales tax by 25 percent to 6.25 percent, and allows cities and towns to raise meals and hotel taxes. That new revenue allows the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority to hold off a planned $100 million toll hike.

Patrick vetoed $147 million from the budget the Legislature sent him, including money for food assistance, senior health care, and kindergarten expansion grants.

Patrick also deepsixed a budget proposal to keep information about who receives state tax credits private. He had asked lawmakers to require the state disclose who receives them.