Senate plan on film tax credit met with bipartisan opposition

Boston Statehouse

Massachusetts State House

BOSTON (SHNS) – The future of the state’s controversial film tax credit, legalization of sports betting, and per-trip fees on ride-hailing services are among the issues senators targeted in the 923 amendments they filed to the Senate’s annual state budget ahead of debate starting Tuesday, May 25.

Senate budget-writers, led by Ways and Means Committee Chair Michael Rodrigues, proposed pushing the sunset date for the credit from Jan. 1, 2023 to Jan. 1, 2027 while eliminating its transferability, capping eligible compensation, and increasing the amount of filming or spending in Massachusetts required to qualify.

Seven different amendments, filed by Democrats and Republicans, aim to alter or outright eliminate the Ways and Means Committee’s film tax credit proposal. A group of amendments from Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (675, 676, 677 and 678) would scrap the higher eligibility thresholds, maintain the credit’s transferability, and make it permanent by eliminating the sunset.

So, too, would an amendment filed by Millbury Democrat Sen. Michael Moore (846), which includes Tarr and fellow Democrat Sens. Paul Feeney of Foxborough and Brendan Crighton of Lynn as co-sponsors. The branches have sparred over the credit in the past, trading with critics arguing that too much of the credit’s benefits flow out of state while supporters assert that it stimulates economic activity.

During its FY22 budget deliberations, the House unanimously approved an amendment lifting the sunset permanently. Tarr and Feeney also each filed their own versions of amendments legalizing sports betting (713 and 847, respectively) in Massachusetts, an idea on which lawmakers have been unable to find consensus despite support for the proposal from Gov. Charlie Baker.

The House previously approved a legalization proposal, but the Senate opted against taking it up. Another issue that already gained legislative support could re-emerge in the Senate’s budget: fees assessed on trips using transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Sen. Joseph Boncore, a Winthrop Democrat who co-chairs the Transportation Committee, filed an amendment (23) that would increase the per-trip fee from its current level of 20 cents to 40 cents for a shared ride, $1.20 for a non-shared ride and $2.20 for a non-shared luxury ride.

Lawmakers included a similar fee structure in a transportation bond bill they sent Baker in January, but he vetoed that language. 

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