Pa. grants & tax credits: Two messes involving taxpayer underwriting of the movie industry demand a thorough investigation |

Pa. grants & tax credits: Two messes involving taxpayer underwriting of the movie industry demand a thorough investigation

It was with much fanfare that Gov. Tom Corbett last week announced a $2.5 million taxpayer grant to help pay for a nearly $10 million expansion for Island Studios in McKees Rocks. The money would be used for a new sound stage and offices for the movie production company.

After the fact, however, it was revealed that studio owner Michael Dolan not only has a long history as a tax scofflaw but that he also allegedly stiffed Allegheny County on a previous loan and was embroiled in a legal dispute with the state over a prior grant.

Worse, county and state officials now are engaged in that classic blame-deflection game with arms crossed and fingers pointing in the opposite direction.

The Island Studios cluster-cluck comes fast on the heels of another mess involving taxpayers subsidizing the film industry. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the commonwealth broke its own rules in awarding tax credits for a movie produced in California — at a $7 million cost to Pennsylvania tax coffers.

Those responsible need their heads examined. And right after the examination is done, they need to be kicked to the curb. What an absolute embarrassment. And what an absolute clarion call for Pennsylvania’s grant-making and tax-credit processes to be thoroughly investigated and overhauled.

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