Friday, May 16, 2008

Movie Disaster

The state legislature's plan to give away our money to movie studios is already a disaster.

Michigan movie credit has huge opening

Movies go over budget all the time. So too, apparently, do movie incentive programs.

Lawmakers on Wednesday seemed somewhat stunned by the estimated $110 million net price tag of Michigan's new film promotion program. The unexpected cost of luring movie makers here could mean less money for local school districts and municipalities.
Who knew so many people would want free money? And no, this plan will not increase tax revenue.

In a briefing to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Fiscal Agency Director Gary Olson pegged the cost of new film production credits at more than $127 million, a figure offset by $10 million in income and sales tax receipts gained from those productions.
It gets better.

The cost of the film credits to a fiscal 2009 state budget already stressed by economic downturn could mean less of an increase for K-12 schools and no increase in state aid payments to municipalities.
Well, at least the news isn't all bad.

Then there's this admission.

"We were very clear, in our opinion, that (tax) revenue generated from this activity would not come close to offsetting the cost of the credits," Olson said.
One could again remind the legislature that government can't pick winners and losers. But they don't need that reminder. The real reason for this program is to generate lots of "politician creates jobs" headlines while the economy continues to tank.

By that measure, the movie giveaway is a big success.

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