Message to Snooki, the Situation, and friends: You can fist-pump in da club all night long, but not on New Jersey's dime.
Gov. Christie on Monday vetoed a $420,000 TV-production tax credit for Jersey Shore, MTV's hit reality series about eight hard-drinking housemates based in Seaside Heights.
The governor has long criticized the show, now in its fourth season, as reinforcing negative stereotypes of New Jersey. In a letter to Caren Franzini, CEO of the state Economic Development Authority, dated Monday, he went further.
"In this difficult fiscal climate, the taxpayers of New Jersey should not be forced to subsidize projects such as Jersey Shore. . . . I am duty-bound to ensure that taxpayers are not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the state and its citizens," Christie wrote.
The tax break, slammed by some as the "Snooki Subsidy," was approved this month by the authority under a film- and TV-production tax credit program that the Senate voted, 23-16, on Monday to expand.
The bill, which Republican legislators opposed, would increase the available credits to $50 million from $10 million.
The measure is unlikely to win the support of Christie, who vetoed a similar bill in February and has described the program as a waste of money. He suspended the program to close a deficit in the last fiscal budget.
The authority approved the $420,000 tax credit for the production of Jersey Shore's first season. The series debuted in December 2009.
A representative of 495 Productions, which produced the show and applied for the tax break, declined to comment Monday.
A spokeswoman for MTV said the series would not be affected. The current season was taped in Italy, but the mostly Italian American cast is expected back in Seaside Heights for Season Five.
New Jersey is not accepting new applications for film- or TV-production tax credits, but pending applications will keep the program going through 2015. Tax credits are available for 20 percent of production costs.
Legislators who recently criticized the Jersey Shore credit included Sen. Paul Sarlo (D., Bergen), a sponsor of the bill to expand the incentive program.
On Thursday, during a hearing of the budget panel he chairs, Sarlo defended the program against members of the GOP who said it was ineffective. A report by the New Jersey Institute of Technology found that in 2009, the program created 1,682 jobs with an average wage of $47,734.
"This is a worthwhile program," Sarlo said.