New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vetoed a controversial tax credit that was awarded to the MTV reality series “Jersey Shore.”
The show has been accused of showcasing stereotypes of the Garden State, but it has also attracted tourists to the shore area inspired by the show's castmates, including Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Mike “the Situation” Sorrentino, who have become national celebrities.
The series was recently approved for a $420,000 film tax credit by the state’s Economic Development Authority for its first season of shooting in 2009 (see Jersey Shore Gets $420,000 Tax Credit from State).
The film tax credit program was recently suspended for budget reasons, but “Jersey Shore” and several other movies and TV shows that had submitted applications before the suspension took effect were awarded the tax credits by the state agency.
Christie, however, had threatened to veto the tax credit last week after word of it leaked out to the press, and he made good on his threat Monday.
In the veto letter he signed Monday, Christie cited New Jersey’s difficult fiscal climate and the need to direct limited state resources to programs and projects that actually benefit the state.
In the letter, Christie noted his long-held concerns about the value and return on the cost of the New Jersey Film Tax Credit Transfer Program, which was the basis for his veto of legislation earlier this year to expand the program.
“We must ensure that our limited taxpayer dollars are spent on programs and projects that best benefit the State of New Jersey,” Christie wrote. “I have no interest in policing the content of such projects; however, as chief executive I am duty-bound to ensure that taxpayers are not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the state and its citizens.”
Christie also pointed to contradictory statements from legislative supporters of the program who complained about the EDA’s award of the tax credit to “Jersey Shore” just days before a recent legislative action to expand funding for the program.
“Legislators who championed the program’s original legislation, and who later sponsored legislation to expand it, must surely have appreciated the consequences of their actions,” Christie wrote. “The tax credit to ‘Jersey Shore’ illustrates the potential for wasteful spending inherent in the implementation of the program. For such legislators to now complain of its implementation with respect to ‘Jersey Shore’ is, at best, mystifying.”
The governor concluded by saying that while it appeared “that the EDA felt compelled” to include “Jersey Shore” in the program, “I am not so constrained,” and he vetoed the $420,000 tax credit award.
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