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Big Bird and other Stories
Author: TriSec    Date: 10/06/2012 11:51:43

Good Morning.

Perhaps you're vaguely aware of a gentleman named Carroll Spinney. You're almost certainly aware of his two most famous creations....one large, yellow, bird and a rather mean grouch that lives in a trash can. Mr. Spinney is a native of Waltham...and today's blog is dedicated to him.

A while ago now, I wrote this blog about our local gem, WGBH. Even if you're not from here, you know them well, as much of PBS's signature programming originates here in Allston, MA. It is unfortunate that our erstwhile governor has decided to hoist a large target over their spiffy new building.

But let's go back to 2005; when Romney was still governor. We weren't in overly good shape then. The budget was a mess, and we were near the bottom of the list in job creation among the states. Of course, the answer to our woes was a tax credit, this time for the film industry. (Caveat - this one actually worked, ever notice how many movies over the last 6 years or so have filmed here?) Even with a tax break, that still meant revenue for the state...and guess who one of the beneficiaries was?

In this week’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney said he would cut off funding to public broadcasting — sparking a social networking firestorm from fans of Big Bird and other beloved PBS characters.

But as governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a bill that indirectly created a huge new pool of funding for WGBH and other companies that make shows for public television.

Boston public television giant WGBH­ received $4.2 million from the state’s film tax credit program last year alone for programs like “American Experience,” “Antiques Roadshow,” and “Nova.” And Watertown animation studio Soup2Nuts received about $300,000 in subsidies last year, mostly for the PBS series “WordGirl.”

“It has been very helpful for us to make our budget,” said WGBH spokeswoman Jeanne Hopkins. “That’s funding we would have to find elsewhere.”

The Massachusetts program offers companies $1 in film tax credits for every $4 they spend filming movies, television shows, and commercials in the state — including for PBS. Over the first five years, hundreds of productions qualified for more than $276 million in credits.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives about $450 million a year from the US government, which it then uses to support stations around the country.

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said that unlike the federal government, Massachusetts had the money for the subsidies. She noted that Romney built a $2 billion rainy day fund in Massachusetts, while the federal government is running $1 trillion deficits.

But Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and a critic of the film tax credits, said the state wasn’t exactly swimming in extra cash. He noted that Romney made $425 million in emergency budget cuts in November 2006, a year after enacting the film tax credit program.

It is also noted elsewhere in the same story that "The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives about $450 million a year from the US government, which it then uses to support stations around the country.". Perhaps that's the problem - Mitt cut 425 million in order to balance the state budget. Maybe he's still got that small-ball mentality.

Or maybe he's forgotten about all that and has just flipped again.

7 comments (Latest Comment: 10/06/2012 16:16:09 by livingonli)
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