The tax credt program was created so New York could compete with places like Canada and Louisiana, which were luring productions with tax incentives.
New York's credit amounts to 30 percent of most production costs, excluding actor, director and producer salaries.
The program has exploded from $25 million in credits a dozen years ago, to $420 million a year today.
Economist E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy believes the program should be scrapped. "This is a scam,” he says.
He argues that many productions getting credits would shoot in New York without them.
Shows like Saturday Night Live, which began in New York City 41 years ago. It is hard to envision the show being produced anywhere else. Yet it got a $12 million state tax credit for its 2013-14 season, the most recent records show.
“All of the claims about economic impacts and job creation are based on the premise that we would have nothing at all without the credit, which is simply ridiculous,” says McMahon.
Even a commission formed by Governor Cuomo in 2013 suggested scaling back the program, saying it didn't appear to pay for itself, a finding state officials dispute.
Critics like McMahon say the industry's glamour and its growing political clout help to protect the credit program.
NY1 found that giant entertainment companies like Fox and CBS have donated more than $900,000 to state political campaigns and committees in seven years. Officials argue if the tax credit goes, the studios will follow.