Republican state Sen. Peter Oberacker wouldn’t mind a dash of Hollywood in his rural upstate district and his home county of Otsego.
He isn't necessarily opposed to a plan that could expand tax incentives to make that happen.
"We're trying to put a fledging film industry together," he said. "I was intrigued with the prospect of having that ability to tap into that money."
Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to expand New York’s film and TV tax break, an already generous program that would significantly grow.
While budget watchdogs have concerns about taxpayers subsidizing a wealthy industry even more, lawmakers aren't ruling out backing the expansion in a budget agreement due at the end of March.
Hochul’s budget proposes increasing the size of New York’s $420 million tax credit program for film and TV projects to $700 million a year. It would also include salaries for writers and directors. And she also wants more incentives for TV shows to re-locate to New York.
Oberacker wants to review more specifics about the plan before signing on, but he believes there's potential in expanding filming in upstate New York.
"Let’s move some of that money into the upstate regions where I think we could benefit far more efficiently in return on investment," he said.
A multitude of TV shows and moves are filmed across the state. The streaming era of peak TV has led to an even greater flood of filming in New York City, but also parts of the Hudson Valley and on Long Island.
State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has been supportive of the program, pointing to a recent set tour he took of the CBS show The Equalizer.
"I was amazed by the diversity of people of color and women working on that show," he said. "I want to make sure New York is a very inviting place for the film industry."
But budget watchdogs like Ron Deutsch are not convinced the tax credits create jobs.
"We really shouldn’t be doing more of the same until we know how effective it is," he said. "And all of the research right now points to the fact that these tax incentives and subsidies do not work."
Elizabeth Marcello of the good-government group Reinvent Albany said there is a cost to the existing film and TV program, and the money should be spent elsewhere. And opponents contend many movies and shows would still film in New York, even without the tax deal.
"It’s not a tax break, it’s a tax expenditure," she said. "That means there is money going out the door."