ALBANY - New York taxpayers reimbursed 38 shows and movies $155 million from July through September, including the most ever awarded to one production.
Season two of Fox's show Gotham raked in $24.5 million in tax breaks for filming in New York, the most of any film or show since the state starting making the incentives public in 2014, new records show.
Gotham had received $22.3 million in 2016 for the first season of the show — which had been the most the state provided to any one production, a review of records by the USA Today Network's Albany Bureau found.
Two other shows received about $20 million in tax breaks, the latest filing Monday by Empire State Development, which manages the program, showed.
Season 4 of CBS' Elementary got $20.6 million, while season 5 of CBS' Blue Bloods was issued $19.9 million.
New York provides $420 million a year in tax breaks — the most in the nation — for the entertainment industry to film in the state, providing 30 percent back on most production costs. If they film outside the New York City area, the incentive grows to 40 percent.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took in more than $200,000 in campaign cash from individuals and corporations associated with the industry during the last six months, records show.
The donations came in part from a trip Cuomo made in November to California, including a campaign event at the home of Universal Pictures chairman Jeff Shell.
The latest contributions were in addition to $1.3 million from film interests he received since taking office, and included $25,000 each from studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife and $25,000 from Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw.
The Motion Picture Association of America and the NY Film political action committee paid $10,000 for the catering for the Los Angeles fundraising, the records showed.
Cuomo and his office have denied any quid pro quo.
"No outside factors influence this process — political or otherwise," Jason Conwall, spokesman for Empire State Development, said in a statement in November.
Howard Zemsky, the president of Empire State Development, testified at a legislative budget hearing Monday about the state's incentives and espoused the benefits of the film-tax program.
In the latest quarterly filing, 38 film projects spent $697 million and hired nearly 47,000 production workers to get the $155 million back.
"That industry has grown like 300 to 400 percent in the last less than 10 years," he said. "It’s enormous. It’s hitting record after record."
Critics have knocked the state's return on investment. Studios received about $42,300 for every direct job created in 2015 and 2016, a report commissioned by the state last year found.
Some Senate Republicans have called on the state to pare back the program, particularly in the face of a $4.4 billion budget deficit. But Cuomo kept the program whole in his budget proposal Jan. 16.
Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, Niagara County, questioned whether New York would still have a robust program if the tax credits were limited.
"My concern is New York and California have always been hubs for the film industry," Ortt said to Zemsky at the budget hearing.
"I guess I’m just curious why that industry was selected. It’s the largest industry-specific credit versus let’s say, manufacturing or agriculture or some other type of industry — especially when most of the jobs, not all of them, are short-term employment jobs."
Zemsky said the industry is booming because of the expansion of productions by streaming services like Netflix, saying more of the jobs are permanent, while films and show are being produced more often throughout the state, not just the city.
Some states like New York and Georgia have boosted the incentives, while others have either eliminated them or cut them back.
Nationally, 29 states spent $6 billion on incentives for more than 5,000 projects over the past five years, an investigation by the USA Today Network in New York last November found.
"It is a booming industry," Zemsky said. "That industry is growing, and it’s growing in New York."