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Hollywood’s long con on New Mexico’s taxpayers

BY DOWD MUSKA
Research director, Rio Grande Foundation

Enjoying the new season of “Better Call Saul”? If not, you should be -- you’re paying for it.
Annually, New Mexico’s taxpayers spend $50 million to “incentivize” film and television production in their state.

Unfortunately, after shoveling more than half a billion dollars Hollywood’s way over the years, the Land of Enchantment has little to show for its generosity.

The payoff from “investment” in the entertainment industry is dismal. Dozens of studies have been undertaken to determine the ratio of subsidization to tax-revenue generation. The Rio Grande Foundation has distilled the best research down to 14 analyses, conducted in states as varied as Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. All were performed by either legislative auditors or tax departments, and not one was issued by Hollywood consultants, economic-development/film bureaucracies, or ideological think tanks of any perspective. When taken as a whole, the 14 studies found the average “return” for a taxpayer dollar to be an appalling 23.6 cents.

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