Baker’s movie play

Gov. Charlie Baker is demonstrating that he can roll out a budget very skillfully. Using the Boston Globe as his message delivery system, the governor this week has unveiled a number of good government initiatives designed to cast him in a positive light before he unveils his budget on Wednesday and starts taking heat for spending cuts expected to total more than $1 billion.

His latest initiative is a clever bit of policy and politics. He is proposing to phase out the state’s controversial film tax credit and use the savings to double the state’s earned income tax credit. Basically, the Republican governor wants to give tax breaks to low-income working families instead of the Hollywood producers who have come to love Massachusetts as a Hollywood backlot.

Former governor Deval Patrick tried numerous times to scale back the film tax credit during his administration, but all of those head-on attempts were beaten back in the House. Baker is taking a different approach. Instead of attacking the film tax credit directly, he’s suggesting the earned income tax credit would be a better use of scarce state funds.

His proposal will endear him to the state’s liberals and put the film tax credit’s political boosters — most of them, including Speaker Robert DeLeo, Democratic members of the House — in an awkward position. How do you push for tax breaks for Hollywood actors and directors at the expense of poor, working families here in Massachusetts?

At a breakfast meeting of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, a big supporter of the film tax credit, conceded Baker’s decision to link the earned income tax credit and the film tax credit was good politics. “It’s a good move by him to connect the two,” he said.

The House’s budget chief, Rep. Brian Dempsey, just smiled when asked about Baker’s political strategy. “I think it’s a fascinating proposal,” he said.

Most studies of the film tax credit show it has been very effective in drawing movies to Massachusetts, but not so effective in building a stand-alone film industry here. That started to change a bit, with the construction of New England Studios in Devens, but the emerging film industry in Massachusetts is still heavily reliant on the film tax credit for its survival.

In an interview with the Globe’s Akilah Johnson, Baker twisted the facts a bit to suit his purposes. In a bid to show the film tax credit isn’t necessary for a thriving Bay State film industry, he said it was hard to conclude from the studies he has reviewed that the the film tax credit was “the most fundamental piece of why someone chooses to make a film here.”

Baker should go back and read those studies again. All of the data suggest the film tax credit is the primary reason why Hollywood comes to Massachusetts. Producers may rave about the scenery, but the prospect of having taxpayers foot the bill for 25 percent of whatever they spend in Massachusetts is what draws them here. Remember, gov, it’s all about the money.



Some top state officials, including House Speaker Robert DeLeo, say careful scrutiny is needed of Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to offer state workers early retirement incentives.

Gov. Baker wants to shift money from housing homeless families in hotels and motels to prevention programs designed to keep them from becoming homeless in the first place, CommonWealth reports.


A consulting firm hired by Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch is recommending the city borrow $96 million for infrastructure improvements to restart the stalled downtown redevelopment project.

Weymouth Mayor Sue Kay is proposing a Proposition 2½ override to pay for some long-delayed projects that have been put off because of lack funds.

A trio of friends make a big purchase in Peabody and become the city’s biggest landowners, the Salem News reports.

Fifteen horses escaped unharmed after a barn roof collapsed in Norwell under the weight of accumulated snow.

In a snowmageddon standoff, some East Boston residents are defying Mayor Marty Walsh’s order to get rid of space-savers, saying they’ll stop marking their spots when the city does its part and clears their streets of the massive mounds of snow that have reduced the number of on-street spaces. Meanwhile, Walsh wants to increase the fine for failing to shovel sidewalks from $300 to $1,500, NECN reports.


The Brockton City Council has given initial approval to a casino referendum question that will be put before voters on May 11.


Hillary Clinton never had a government email address when she was secretary of state and used her personal email for correspondence, an apparent violation of public records laws.


The American Spectator profiles US Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Cory Gardner of Colorado, two politicians they cite as leading GOP presidential contenders — in 2020, if a Democrat wins.


The Cape Cod Times mulls the PawSox move to Providence: First likely casualty: free parking.

A whiskey distillery is coming to Dorchester’s Port Norfolk.

Warren Buffett goes off on Wall Street and the banking industry in his annual letter to shareholders.


In a flurry of last-minute lobbying, residents, advocates, and teachers are weighing in with their choice for Boston school superintendent. Former Boston city councilor and one-time mayoral candidate John Connolly gives his opinion on the four school superintendent candidates and his impression of the process.

Governing takes another look at school reform efforts in Memphis and reports that the noise of all the protests is starting to overshadow any gains.

UMass Lowell chancellor Marty Meehan could be a strong contender to be the next president of the UMass system.

With a federal crackdown on for-profit career training institutes, some of the companies are turning themselves into traditional nonprofit schools, a move that is actually quite profitable.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association will move out of its longtime Beacon Hill headquarters to an office park in North Quincy.

Lowell schools brace for a $344,000 state budget cut, the Sun reports.


Former transportation secretary Rich Davey says fixing the MBTA and building the South Coast Rail are a “tall order” without new taxes.

Keolis, the operator of the MBTA’s commuter rail, wants to get out from fines of more than $430,000 for late or cancelled trains because of a clause in its contract that has an out for “severe weather.” Nearly two-thirds of commuter rail trains were late last month, the Associated Press reports.


Developers of the imperilled Cape Wind power project are backing off a planned lease of space in New Bedford to be used as a staging area for turbines.

Manchester will save $60,000 by picking up trash every other week rather than every week, the Gloucester Times reports.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation has hiked fees for parking and annual passes to state parks.

A 16-acre solar farm is proposed in Haverhill, the Eagle-Tribune reports.


Prosecutors in the murder trial of Aaron Hernandez are asking the judge to reconsider her ruling barring them from telling jurors about a 2013 shooting the former Patriot tight end was allegedly involved in in Florida.

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev file a fourth motion for change of venue.


Gabrielle Gurley interviews Ken Cooper, who wrote the blurbs that accompany the photographs in a new book on black leaders in Boston.

It turns out Bill O’Reilly’s reporting on the Falkland Islands war in the early 1980s, which is now the focus of controversy, caught the eye of executives at Channel 7 in Boston and led them to woo him here.