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Don’t diss da state of New Jersey

September 27, 2011  |  Share

 From NJ.com (TRENTON) — Here’s the situation, “Snooki”: The party is over. There won’t be any tax break for “Jersey Shore.”

Gov. Chris Christie squashed a controversial $420,000 tax credit called the “Snooki subsidy” for the first season of the hit MTV show, saying taxpayers could not afford to support a program that tarnishes the state’s reputation.

“I have no interest in policing the content of such projects,” the governor said in a news release. “However, as chief executive I am duty-bound to ensure that taxpayers are not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the state and its citizens.”

In blocking the “Jersey Shore” tax credit, Christie assumed the unusual role of critic-in-chief. For example, he let stand tax credits for other shows, including “Hell in a cell at Newark,” a collection of live wrestling shows, and “Chlorine,” a movie starring Kyra Sedgwick.

Film industry professionals had testified at a committee hearing last week that targeting certain shows and stripping “Jersey Shore” of its tax credit would have a chilling effect on production companies when they consider doing business in New Jersey.

In the case of “Jersey Shore,” they said the tax incentive was well worth it because it brings millions of dollars and additional jobs to the state. Officials in Seaside Heights, where “Jersey Shore” was filmed in its initial season, agreed.

What’s more, “Jersey Shore” is the most highly watched show in the channel’s history, resulting in such new phrases in the pop cultural lexicon as GTL (gym, tan and laundry, for non-fans).

A spokeswoman for MTV said the show would not be adversely affected by the loss of the tax break, but declined to comment further.

Andre’ DiMino, the president of the nation’s largest anti-bias Italian American organization, said he was delighted with the veto.

“It’s absolutely outstanding that he took the initiative and did the right thing,” DeMino. “The tax credit was an absolute insult.”

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved the credit for the 2009 production of the show’s inaugural season. It was part of the first round of film tax credits awarded by the authority since Christie suspended the program in 2010 to close a budget deficit.

The $10 million tax credit program gives eligible film and television production companies a 20 percent tax credit on their expenses in New Jersey. The show’s producer, 495 productions, said it spent $2.1 million in the state during taping.

In denying the tax break, Christie also took a swipe at “the contradictions coming from legislative supporters” who complained about the money for “Jersey Shore” just days before seeking legsislation to increase financing for film tax credit program.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) said he agreed with Christie for denying the tax break.

“Hopefully he’ll work with us to revamp the program for worthwhile projects,” said Sarlo, who sponsored a bill approved today along partisan lines to expand the film tax credit.

Last week Christie took the opportunity to tweak Sarlo, saying he senator “would probably be good at playing Twister, given all of his contortions” about the tax credit program.

The expansion of aid for the film and television industry was part of a blitz of job-related bills passed by the Senate today to provide tax credits for manufacturing companies that invest in new equipment and also phase out a nip-and-tuck tax on plastic surgeries.

The Legislature is expected to do little more between now and the Nov. 8 election, when all 120 seats are at stake.

» New York Daily News: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoes $420,000 in tax credits for producers of MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’
» New Jersey Star-Ledger: Gov. Christie won’t enter presidential race, his brother insists


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