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    Filmmakers assail Gov. Baker’s plan to limit state tax credit

    Governor Charlie Baker’s plan would mean unused film tax credits couldn’t be cashed in.
    Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
    Governor Charlie Baker’s plan would mean unused film tax credits couldn’t be cashed in.

    Massachusetts filmmakers assailed legislation filed by Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday that would reduce the state’s film tax credit program, saying that it would hurt small businesses and force workers to leave the state.

    Baker’s bill, which was filed with his $39.6 billion budget proposal, would reinstate the film tax credit program’s original $7 million cap per project — a cap that was lifted in 2007 — and make the credits no longer “refundable,” a mechanism by which filmmakers can cash in unused tax credits.

    “The film tax credit has made Massachusetts a leading film-making destination, supporting thousands of local families and creating a local industry that helps countless small businesses,” the Massachusetts Production Coalition, an advocacy group for the film and television production industry, said in a statement. “[T]he Governor’s bill would cripple this strong and growing industry and send these good-paying local jobs to competing states.”

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    Last year, Baker proposed eliminating the film tax credit altogether. During his State of the Commonwealth address last week, Baker called the proposed changes “modest.”

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    “We respect the Legislature’s desire to retain the credit. Message delivered,” he said. “But we believe it would be more cost effective to return to its original structure.”

    The governor estimates the suggested limits would save the state $43 million a year. He has proposed directing the savings toward increasing affordable housing and reducing taxes on businesses.

    “Governor Baker’s proposal to restore the film tax credit to its original structure will provide savings that allow the Commonwealth to invest in new opportunities for job growth and affordable housing for Massachusetts residents,” said Billy Pitman, Baker’s deputy communications director.

    But the Massachusetts Production Coalition maintained the changes would help working families at the expense of other working families.

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    “Helping local manufacturers and building more affordable housing are important goals, but kicking the strong and growing film and television production industry out of our state will only hurt our economy and result in the loss of thousands of Massachusetts jobs and millions of dollars that go to local small businesses,” said the coalition’s statement.

    Malcolm Gay can be reached at malcolm.gay@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @malcolmgay