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Testimony in Opposition of HB 6929 Submitted by Bryce Chinault, Director of External Affairs

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee regarding HB 6929: An Act Concerning the Film and Digital Media Production Tax Credits. My name is Bryce Chinault and I am the Director of External Affairs at Yankee Institute, a non-profit public policy organization in Hartford dedicated to empowering people to forge a better future for themselves and their families.

In testimony before a joint committee hearing last year, Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Commissioner David Lehman highlighted the state’s film and movie tax credits as an area ripe for reduction or outright repeal.[1] This recommendation was informed by DECD’s annual report which found that the Film & Digital Media Tax Credit led to an annual decrease in state revenue of over $58 million and a cumulative loss of over half a billion dollars since its inception in 2006.[2]

What do taxpayers get in return for this investment? According to study, after study, after study, after study: not much.[3],[4],[5],[6] One of the studies by Michael Thom at USC Sol Price School of Public Policy found that “On average, the only benefits were short-term wage gains, mostly to people who already work in the industry. Job growth was almost non-existent. Market share and industry output didn’t budge.”[7]

There is, however, another potential tax credit in a proposed bill before the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee that would help children from low-income households thrive in Connecticut’s K-12 classrooms. HB 5424: An Act Establishing a Tax Credit for Educational Access and Opportunity Scholarship Donations could help make a real difference in the lives of children today and help Connecticut’s economy grow for decades into the future.

The tax credit, essentially, would incentivize individuals and organizations to make donations to scholarship granting organizations in Connecticut that exist to connect those resources with low-income families seeking educational opportunities for their children in K-12 schools.

Tax credits like this currently exist in 21 states[8] across the country, including New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, and Virginia. Scholarship granting organizations in these states have awarded billions[9] of dollars in scholarships to hundreds of thousands of grateful families. Attached is a document that helps further explain how the tax credits could work in Connecticut.

According to the CEO of the Connecticut Center for Educational Excellence, who testified in support of HB 5424, she has already received over 600 requests for scholarships from families in over 70 cities in Connecticut since opening the center a mere month ago.

Here is a short list of inspirational quotes from students who have already benefitted from the currently limited availability of these types of K-12 scholarships in Connecticut:

Bryce Chinault

Bryce joined Yankee Institute after nearly a decade of working in federal and state level policy analysis at the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. In those roles, Bryce worked directly with members of Congress, executive agencies, governors, state legislators, and local officials to engage on a diverse range of policy topics and enact positive reforms for everyday people across the country. A native of Cambridge, WI, Bryce moved to Connecticut to be closer to his wife’s family in her hometown of Newtown. Bryce earned a Master of Public Policy degree from George Mason University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He is also the loving father of two amazing kids.

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