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Lalor and Assemblymembers Propose Restoring OPWDD Funds by Cutting Hollywood Tax Giveaways
Posted April 30th, 2013

Albany, N.Y. – (4/30/13) – Today, Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I-Fishkill) joined a coalition of lawmakers from the Assembly to propose cutting Hollywood tax credits by $90 million and use the savings to restore the needed  $90 million that was cut from not-for-profits supported by the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

“Governor Cuomo’s budget couldn’t find $90 million for the developmentally disabled, but there was room for $420 million in Hollywood tax credits,” said Lalor. “That has been the most disturbing part of the OPWDD cuts. Hollywood got its money, but the disabled face cuts. The developmentally disabled don’t have high-powered lobbyists to pull strings in Albany. They don’t make campaign donations. NBC, though, wrote the governor’s campaign a $9,700 check a month before new tax credits were announced. It all came down to power and influence. The governor made room in the budget for Hollywood, but not for OPWDD. We need to restore the funding for OPWDD, and the money needs to come from the budget’s Hollywood tax subsidies.”

Lalor’s bill will reduce the available film production tax credits by $90 million. The budget savings would be used to restore the $90 million that had been cut from OPWDD. The budget’s $420 million in tax credits includes the new “Jimmy Fallon tax credit” for talk and variety shows. It has been recently revealed that NBC had lobbied for the new tax credits before the governor’s budget proposal was first announced. Since October 2010, Governor Cuomo’s campaign has received $19,700 in contributions from NBC Universal and $30,300 from NBC’s parent company, Comcast.

While OPWDD has proposed a general plan to cut costs in an attempt to restore not-for-profit funding, it is unclear how they will achieve the cuts. Proposals to fund any remaining shortfall plan on using tax dollars from the state’s general fund. Lalor’s proposal restores the funding without new costs for taxpayers because the funds will come from the money budgeted for the film tax credit program.

“I truly admire the dedicated individuals who work with people with developmental disabilities – their commitment is unending and unsurpassed. Equally inspiring are the individuals and families who rely on their services. As elected officials, we have every responsibility to help them get the services that they need and deserve. The excuse to not fully fund OPWDD in this year’s budget, we were told, was that a revenue source could not be found. In my comments during the budget, I named several programs that could be used as sources of funding for OWPDD, which were hailed as being great for New Yorkers, but in truth, were merely sleight-of-hand tactics that are typical of Albany politics. I would agree that allocating money from the $420 million in tax credits for wealthy Hollywood is a pretty good start toward restoring the $90 million gap that remains in the OPWDD budget,” said Assemblyman Clifford Crouch (R-Guilford).

“The Hollywood cultural elite have been benefiting from $420 million of taxpayer money in the state of New York annually. This year, those with developmental disabilities had a considerable amount of funding cut from their non-profit programs. It is irresponsible to pad the pockets of the wealthy in Hollywood, when those most vulnerable in our society are left worrying about their day-to-day living situation and programs to help them function within the local community. This bill makes our priorities clear, that the vulnerable in our community are more important than the silver screen,” said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I-New Hartford).

“As I’ve noted before, I like Jimmy Fallon. He’s a pretty funny guy who I’m sure will do a good job as host of the ‘Tonight Show’. We both went to the same school — the College of St. Rose. But taking $90 million from people with developmental disabilities to line the pockets of the rich and famous from Beverly Hills is no laughing matter. Our state government’s top priority must be protecting our most vulnerable citizens not subsidizing Hollywood studios and late night television,” said Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville).

“As lawmakers, our job is to be the voice of our residents here in Albany, especially for those whose voice would otherwise go silent. We cannot give bullet aid to pet projects and tax credits to Hollywood, while leaving our developmentally disabled and their caregivers in the lurch. We must act and ensure that our developmentally disabled community have the funding they need to receive the quality, dignified care they deserve,” said Assemblyman Michael Montesano (R,I,C-Glen Head).