Paul Costa: Local tab for House GOP budget waffle topping $100 million

Pittsburgh region about to lose third film, hundreds of jobs from leadership-led impasse

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 3 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, today said the Pittsburgh region will have lost three films and hundreds of local jobs because of the 33-day state budget impasse directed by House Republican leadership.

“The lack of a budget means no lights, cameras, action or jobs for southwestern Pennsylvania,” Costa said. “Over $100 million in local investments are gone with the wind with the inaction by House Republican leadership.”

Costa said by week’s end three movie productions slated for the Pittsburgh region and projected to invest $101 million locally will have fled because Film Tax Credits are unavailable since leaders of the House majority have faltered on funding the $32 million spending plan approved June 30.

“Amblin Entertainment and its scheduled $58 million production and NBC Universal with its $18 million film budget have already left town because of the snafu,” Costa said. “Another film, a $25 million production of ‘Arc of Justice’ featuring Russell Crowe as Clarence Darrow, will pull up stakes by the end of the week.”

Costa said the Republican leadership team in the House needs to realize the harms it is causing by failing to finalize the revenue pieces needed to pay for spending it already approved.

“We need responsibility and accountability before more jobs and investment flee Pennsylvania,” Costa said. “Crucial human service programs, no doubt, are slowly withering waiting for action on the budget.”

Costa said the Senate plan approved July 27 to patch a $2.2 billion hole in the 2017-18 spending plan is far from perfect but opened the door for House action. “Call us back to Harrisburg so we can hash this out,” he said.

A  longtime proponent of the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit and the economic benefits it provides, Costa said the loss of the films in the Pittsburgh area are especially upsetting because the now-clogged tax credits could have been avoided.

“I have long championed uncapping the Film Production Film Credit to provide seamless and dedicated support for such economic investments in the state,” Costa said. “Loosening the choke collar on the program would spark as much as $200 million in state economic activity.”

Pennsylvania’s Film Tax Credit program directs that a minimum of 60 percent of all work be done in Pennsylvania by Pennsylvania residents. No tax credits are disbursed until the end of the film’s production and an audit confirms that all criteria have been met.