FY 2025 NYS Budget Includes $90 Million Local Media Tax Credit

At a recent rally in Albany, NYS Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, at center, made the case for the local media tax credit that would soon become part of the final state budget. | Photo courtesy of the Empire State Local News Coalition

BY SCOTT STIFFLER | When New York State (NYS) Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS Legislature went public with their final budget on April 20, it included a hard-won payroll tax credit for local news outlets—making New York the first state in the nation to incentivize the hiring and retaining of local journalists.

Chelsea’s own NYS Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal served as the Senate bill’s sponsor. He’s been working toward its passage since the Local Journalism Sustainability Act was first announced in a November 24, 2021 press release sent by his Office. “I’m elated that our first-in-the-nation Local Journalism Sustainability Act is passing in the state budget,” said Hoylman-Sigal, adding, “A thriving local news industry is vital to the health of our democracy and it’s our responsibility to help ensure New Yorkers have access to independent and community-focused journalism.” The Senator called out for recognition Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Governor Hochul, the bill’s Assembly Sponsor, Carrie Woerner, and “the over 200 local publications of the Empire State Local News Coalition who helped pass our bill. Our efforts will help ensure that our democracy will not die in darkness.”

The program’s allocation—$30 million annually for three years—allows an eligible newspaper or broadcast business to receive a 50% refundable tax credit against the first $50,000 of an employee’s salary (up to $300,000 per business). It sets aside $4 million to incentivize the hiring of new journalists. The remaining $26 million is to be split evenly between businesses with fewer than 100 employees and those with more than 100 employees.

Zachary Richner, founder of the Empire State Local News Coalition, called the state budget’s inclusion of a payroll tax credit “a critical investment given that hundreds of New York’s newspapers have closed since 2004, leaving too many New York communities without access to vital local information.” The program, he noted, would not be possible without “Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, whose tireless advocacy was instrumental in moving it through the legislative process.” Also mobilizing support for the historic bill, noted an April 20 press release from the Empire State Local News Coalition, was “a broad range of stakeholders from around the country, including the Rebuild Local News Coalition, Microsoft, and El Diario as well as organized labor including NYS AFL-CIO, CWA District 1, and national and local news guilds.”

As for the future role of the Coalition—which coalesced just months ago to launch a coordinated campaign for the Sustainability Act that included member-led petition drives, letter-writing campaigns, and editorials—Richner told Chelsea Community News this payroll tax credit “is just the first of many important policies that our coalition will be advocating for in Albany. We’ll be releasing our full legislative agenda shortly.”

Speaking to how the win in Albany might serve as a model for others, Richner said, “Hopefully this will be the first domino to fall when it comes to enacting similar legislation in other states as well as federally… Stakeholders interested in replicating this playbook and hearing about lessons learned should reach out to us at info@savenylocalnews.com.”

NOTE: Chelsea Community News is a member of the Empire State Local News Coalition.


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