Thursday, July 2, 2015

Film Subsidies Fade to Black

The state has spent more than $450 million, but there are fewer film jobs today than in 2008, when the program began.

From the WSJ. By Jarrett Skorup, a policy analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Mich. Excerpts:
"in 2008,... The incentive program, which reimbursed filmmakers for up to 42% of costs, sailed through the legislature with a combined vote of 145-1 in the House and Senate. 

The policy hasn’t been a hit. Michigan has doled out more than $450 million, but the state has fewer film jobs today than it did in 2008, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. There was a fleeting uptick—a few hundred jobs—when the state spent more than $100 million a year from 2008-11. Yet filmmakers mostly shot and then packed up, and no permanent industry took hold.

"the program returned a mere 11 cents for every taxpayer dollar spent. Other states have shown similar meager returns."

"The subsidies also spawned bad investment decisions, as municipal governments built their own studios. The city of Allen Park spent $30 million on a studio in 2009, promising thousands of jobs. No such luck. The middle-class town was almost bankrupt by 2012"

"Most studies find film-incentive programs to be a waste of taxpayer money. The Tax Foundation said in a 2010 report that they “are costly and fail to live up to their promises,”"

"The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reviewed the economic literature in 2010 and found them “a classic race to the bottom” with benefits “more fiction than fact.”"

"$450 million would have filled a lot of potholes."

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