Well, it seems that it is Star Ledger – 1, Christie – 0.
The Star Ledger started this whole mess and turned a non-issue into national news when they openly lied by saying that New Jerseyans would be footing the bill for MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore,’ a show that I can honestly and proudly say that I only saw one time. The experience was so terrible that I not only have I never watched it again, but I am fairly certain that MTV has not been on my television since that evening.
We at Save Jersey told you the truth about this program. The taxpayers would not be footing the bill for anything. A tax credit is simply not the same thing as a deduction, or a grant, or a check being written back to the show or its creators. While the explanation is not anything that nicely fits in a headline or a soundbite, it is the truth. The state never touched that money to begin with, it never belonged to the taxpayers and therefore was never “given” to MTV, Snooki, or anyone else.
Another truth about this tax credit is that the program that provides it, the Digital Media Tax Credit Program, boosts economic activity and brings jobs to our state. In fact, the credit should have been extended to entice the ‘Jersey Shore’ to come back to the actual Jersey Shore, rather that being in whatever country they are filming in now.
Like it or not, that show brought a ton of attention to our beach towns over the last few years, and any business owner on a boardwalk will tell you that the show has been good for business, even if its not good for the “image” of New Jersey. When unemployment is over 9%, I don’t think we should be picky about such things.
Governor Christie showed weakness in vetoing this tax credit. I have not seen him do something so shortsighted and weak since he reimbursed the state a few thousand dollars after using the state helicopter at the instruction of state police. For the second time I can remember in the last two years, Christie has done the expedient and headline-popular thing, rather than the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, two instances out of nearly two years of positive decisions for our state is not a bad record, but come on Governor, we all know you can do better than this.
Additionally, vetoing this tax credit is ideologically impure. It would be one thing if Christie were against the tax credit completely and asked the Legislature to repeal it, ensuring that taxpayer money is “saved” by no show getting a tax advantage over another. Instead, he is playing the game where government picks winners and losers based on content. The Governor’s office attempted to diffuse this argument,
“I have no interest in policing the content of such projects; 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.”
Are they kidding? Unless we simply call this bending over for the Star Ledger, it is complete content policing. Snooki and the Situation are getting stiffed on this tax credit because the Governor’s office decided that the show has no value to the state, because the show is trashy and doesn’t “benefit the state.” Well tell that to all the people who worked on the set for the show and all of the small business owners who benefited from it’s presence. Other productions in New Jersey are going to enjoy the tax credit simply based on the fact that they flew under the radar of the Star Ledger, who saw no way to exploit them to strike at the Governor.
The effects of this move could actually be quite negative. If a production feels that it can film in a state with a favorable tax structure to media, it will likely steer clear of New Jersey, regardless of how much this credit program grows. Business hates uncertainty, and there is nothing more uncertain than wondering if your tax credit is going to be cut just your content may be less than classy.
Governor Christie, the people of New Jersey elected you because you are tough and tell it like it is. You’re the guy who tells lefty journalists to “get a life” rather than answer their idiotic gotcha questions. You are not the guy who reacts to a headline in order to score some quick points with the media that is against you anyway! You aren’t that wuss. Get back to being yourself, especially if you plan on running for President…