Chairwoman of the Legislature Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, said bed tax revenues are generated from folks who do not live in Schenectady County but are coming into the community to visit. Proctor's inadvertently brings people into the community to see shows and for conferences.
Savage also said that Proctor's helps generate sales tax revenues from people who come downtown to see shows and shop and eat at local restaurants.
"The sales tax is distributed to other municipalities, so even if you don't live in Schenectady, even if you've never been to Proctor's, you benefit anyway," she said.
Legislator Vincent DiCerbo, D-Schenectady, said he doesn't see any problem with governments contributing to the arts. He said no one has a problem with Albany County owning the Palace Theater or the state having an influence in the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Saratoga Race Track.
"Governments are always supporting the arts," he said. "I'm not concerned about the money. Look at the loss of revenue without Proctor's."
Legislator Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady, said Proctor's has been behind Schenectady's revitalization. He said even with the new stage, which was completed in 2004, Proctor's brought in 80,000 people during the month that "Phantom of the Opera" ran, and those people spent close to $10 million in the county according to the Chamber of Commerce.
Legislator Robert Farley, R-Glenville, also supported the amendment. Farley was a legislator when the bed tax law was first enacted.
"Proctor's is our community theater," he said. "It is the thing that people associate Schenectady with, and the community supports it."