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NY State O.K.’s $90 million tax credit for local newspapers

Now here’s some good news — for newspapers…and for newspaper readers.

On April 20, Governor Hochul and the New York State Legislature unveiled the final state budget, including an unprecedented payroll tax credit for local news outlets.

With the passage of the tax credit, modeled on the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, New York is now the first state in the nation to incentivize hiring and retaining local journalists. This game-changer for the local news industry comes just months after the launch of the Empire State Local News Coalition, a grassroots campaign powered by more than 200 community newspapers across the state, including The Village Sun.

Brad Hoylman-Sigal, who represents Manhattan’s West Side, including a part of Greenwich Village, sponsored the bill in the state Senate.

“I’m elated that our first-in-the-nation Local Journalism Sustainability Act is passing in the state budget,” Hoylman-Sigal said. “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. … Our efforts will help ensure that our democracy will not die in darkness.”

The program — funded with $30 million per year for three years — allows each eligible newspaper and broadcast business to receive a 50 percent refundable tax credit against the first $50,000 of an employee’s salary, up to a total of $300,000 per business. Four million dollars will be allocated to incentivize print and broadcast businesses to hire new journalists. The remaining $26 million will be split evenly between businesses with fewer than 100 employees and those with more than 100 employees, ensuring that hyperlocal, independent news organizations have a fair shot at access to these funds.

After stalling for years, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act catapulted into a top legislative priority this session following the early-2024 founding of the Empire State Local News Coalition. The coalition mobilized support from hundreds of New York hometown papers, as well as stakeholders from around the country, including the Rebuild Local News Coalition, Microsoft and El Diario. Organized labor, including New York State AFL-CIO, CWA District 1 and national and local news guilds, also played a key role in mobilizing support for the historic bill.

After launching in February, the coalition quickly mobilized stakeholders across the state to rally behind the bill. In addition to rallying with grassroots advocates in Westchester and Albany, members led petition drives, letter-writing campaigns, penned editorials and created advertisements sounding the alarm on the decline of local journalism.

Zachary Richner, the founder of the Empire State Local News Coalition, called the tax credit a “critical investment” for the future of local news in New York State.

“The Empire State Local News Coalition is thrilled by the state budget’s inclusion of a payroll tax credit for local news outlets modeled on the Local Journalism Sustainability Act,” he said. “This is 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.

“We’re especially grateful to Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, whose tireless advocacy for this tax credit was instrumental in moving it through the legislative process,” Richner said. “The coalition thanks Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, Assembly sponsor Carrie Woerner and the entire Legislature for supporting this industry-saving policy, and we look forward to continuing our advocacy for local news in the years to come.”

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