Massachusetts Budget

Gov. Charlie Baker.

Gov. Charlie Baker has enjoyed a supportive relationship with the Legislature in his brief time in office, but he could be headed for his first fight over an attempt to end lucrative tax breaks for the movie industry.

Some of the resistance could come from fellow Republicans.

Baker is about to propose a new state budget that aims to phase out the state's movie tax credit and instead double the earned income tax credit for the working poor.

The film industry has been the recipient of strong support from the Legislature in the past and attempts to ease or end the tax break have been dismissed out of hand.

Gov. Deval Patrick and other liberals tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the break over the years. Former state Rep. Steve D'Amico, D-Seekonk, got himself on the bad side of Democratic leadership for constantly raising the issue.

He would point out studies showing the tax break was costing the state more than it was gaining by attracting movies, irritating the speaker and his allies.

State Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, said Tuesday there is a Republican caucus Wednesday and Baker is supposed to talk about his positions on various issues at that time.

She said she suspects some Republicans will be opposed to ending the movie tax break.

"I'm sure he will get a lot of questions on it," she said.

Rep. Steven Howitt, R-Seekonk, who replaced D'Amico, said he will listen to Baker, but supports the tax credit.

Howitt said the tax advantage attracts a lot of movies to Massachusetts and that helps the economy.

Howitt has actually appeared as an extra in some movies. He said has seen how many people a movie employs and how much is spent at local businesses.

Perhaps the tax break could be "tweaked," he said, but it should not be ended.

State Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, said he worked on the movie tax bill when it first passed and believes it has worked out well.

"I like seeing Massachusetts be a movie mecca," he said.

He said he would have to hear Baker's rationale before making a final decision.

Both Howitt and Poirier said they need more information on the earned income tax credit before taking a stand, as well.

But, one area Democrat, state Rep. Paul Heroux, D-Attleboro, was quick to side with the Republican governor on both his proposals.

Heroux said he is a fan of the earned income tax credit because it helps the working class. The movie tax break helps Hollywood, he said.

"I am a big supporter of the earned income tax credit, but I have never really been too fond of the film industry tax break," he said.

"With Hollywood movies bringing in billions of dollars a year in profits, the film tax credit is not really necessary. Moreover, if Hollywood is as liberal as many would believe, then maybe they should put their money where their mouth is and support the Governor's trickle-up economic proposal by helping low income families with children."

Liberal groups also came to Baker's defense.

"Increasing the state earned income tax credit will help hundreds of thousands of working parents to support their children and pay for basic necessities," said Noah Berger of the Mass Budget and Policy Center.

"Like increasing the minimum wage, it is a very direct way of improving the incomes of working people. Improving the economic conditions of low wage working parents has also been shown to improve the long term well-being of their children."

He said eliminating the movie tax break to pay for the earned income tax credit is a smart move by Baker because most of the movie tax breaks go to millionaire actors who live out of state.

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