Only in print: Who gets the money? Even Legislature can't find out
Proponents of Connecticut's film, television and digital media production tax credits say the incentives are good for the local economy and diversify a business climate heavily dependent on the beleaguered financial-services sector.
But the program, at the expense of the cash-strapped state, is also lining the pockets of brokers who help visiting productions trade the credits to Connecticut companies. And the details of the transactions are not public, even to frustrated legislators, a Hearst investigation has found.
"The tax credit sellers have made millions. And I don't think they provide much value when you can have a program that does not need them," said state
Sen. Gary LeBeau. D-East Hartford.
LeBeau, co-chairman of the Legislature's Commerce Committee. has been pushing to convert the 4-year-old tax credit program to a direct cash rebate system that eliminates the need for the brokers.
LeBeau said he believes the rebate would allow Connecticut to continue to offer the same level of incentives to qualified productions but decrease the costs to the state.
"We would get more bang for our buck," LeBeau said.
When he aired the idea at the start of the 2010 legislative session, it was panned by industry insiders, including the Motion Picture Association of America and the Stamford-based Connecticut Film Center. considered the leading film tax credit broker in the Connecticut market.