Emily Shur/AP Photo
MTV's Jersey Shore cast member Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi
UPDATE (Sept. 27): Christie vetoed the tax credit, but only the one for production of "Jersey Shore"
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has drawn fire in the past for his love of budget cuts. Now it seems he's focusing in on The Arts. At issue is a tax credit approved for production of MTV's infamous reality show, Jersey Shore. Now, I realize referring to Jersey Shore as "The Arts" might be a little too much poetic license. Just go with me here.
Established in 2006, The New Jersey Film Tax Credit Transfer Program serves as an incentive to encourage production companies to film in New Jersey.
This $10 million program was halted by Christie's administration for this fiscal year as a cost-cutting measure. But New Jersey's Economic Development Authority has approved a $420,000 tax credit for the 2012 fiscal year that would go to 495 Productions, which produces the show.
When some New Jerseyans heard that state tax dollars were going to the so-called "Snooki Subsidy" — instead of potentially funding schools — well, there was a...situation.
We learned Governor Christie does have statutory authority to veto in this instance, but it's unclear if he can stop just this one credit or if the entire $10 million has to be scrapped. We're actually waiting to hear back from the New Jersey Attorney General's office on that one.
But of course, it's easy to demonize Jersey Shore. Christie's been doing that for some time. In an interview, he once whined about the "negative" publicity the show gives the Garden State. He explained, "What it does it take a bunch of New Yorkers — most of the people who are on Jersey Shore are New Yorkers — takes a buncha New Yorkers, drops 'em at the Jersey Shore, and tries to make America feel like this is New Jersey."
But here's the point, the one season of Jersey Shore in question brought $2.1 million in production costs alone to New Jersey thanks in part to this kind of tax credit. And officials in Seaside Heights "have praised the show for bringing in big business to the area."
In these hard economic times, it's hard to say no to that kind of money — even if you have to put up with the Snooki and the GTL gang.