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Tread carefully on film incentives

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By Sherry Robinson

A new study argues that New Mexico and 42 other states are wasting their money on film incentives.  
“In the harsh light of reality, film subsidies offer little bang for the buck,” writes Robert Tannenwald, of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
I give the study a thumbs-down for its biases and mistaken assumptions, but it’s another reminder that the incentive program isn’t well understood.
Tannenwald speculates that to pay for its film incentives, New Mexico “probably had to cut state services,” but it hasn’t happened. He claims New Mexicans are only getting the flunky jobs because “most locations in the United States (other than Los Angeles and New York City) lack ‘crew depth.’” Dead wrong. New Mexico is justifiably proud of its pool of well-trained crews, and out-of-state personnel aren’t eligible for the New Mexico rebate.
Most revealing, however was a recent exchange between Tannenwald and New Mexico industry professionals on their listserv. Tannenwald made it clear he thinks subsidies to any industry are wasteful and ineffective.  New Mexico offers a 25 percent tax rebate on production expenditures and a no-interest loan for up to $15 million per movie.


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