New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would have funded programs to increase diversity in television production in the state.
The bill (which was backed by several entertainment guilds, including the Writer’s Guild of America East, which also represents Splinter) would have set aside up to $5 million in tax credits towards the hiring of women and people of color as writers and directors. This is something the industry has been trying to address but still desperately needs help with.
The bill, which was the first of its kind in the country, also had the support of the New York State AFL-CIO, IATSE Local 52, the International Cinematographers Guild IATSE Local 600, State Senator Marisol Alcantara, celebrities, and many more people and organizations.
Variety reports that Cuomo’s “veto was based on the fact that there was no additional funding attached to the bill, and he noted that the state’s existing $420 million production tax incentive program is already ‘extremely oversubscribed.’” He also added that “the bill did not adequately define how the credit would be calculated, who would be defined as a writer and a director and the criteria for claiming it.”
In a press release, Writers Guild of America, East Executive Director Lowell Peterson expressed his disappointment but vowed to keep fighting. The statement read in part:
We are stunned and disappointed by the Governor’s veto. New York has missed the chance to make history. Study after study, testimonial upon testimonial, have proven beyond doubt that the television industry has a major diversity problem. Women and people of color are vastly underrepresented, particularly as writers and directors, and they have been for many years. The time has come for concrete action, the kind of action called for in this important legislation – legislation which had broad and deep support across the industry, from individuals and organizations that care deeply about the people who work in the industry and about the industry’s long-term health.
New York could been a pioneer for this type of legislation and set the standard for the country. Instead, Cuomo’s veto shows how women and people of color continue to get set aside.