THE DEATH OF THE FILM INDUSTRY IN MONTANA
Montana is now starting to see the agenda creep that is very similar to the Wisconsin disaster when Gov. Scott Walker and his followers gave 117 million dollars worth of tax breaks to corporations and big donors, and then placed the blame that “We Are Broke!” on the backs of teachers, firemen, police officers and public employees.
Our Republican Senators are in full sponsored support of SB 253 which takes the tax credits away from small businesses, consumers, and workers who benefit from forward looking industries which will help Montanans in the long run. The sacrificial lambs will be tax credits for Energy Conservation, Recycling, Historical Preservation, Biodiesel production, Automobile Conversion, Film Production and Film Labor. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Bob Lake of Hamilton stood up on the floor of the Senate and started his sponsor speech with,
”Thank you for helping me to pay for my new energy efficient windows on my house.” “I used the tax credit available to me for my new windows”.
He stumbled into why it was bad tax policy and then he proceeded to vote for a bill that will kill the tax credit he just used. I guess he got his windows and we can stuff it.
These Senators have decided that they would support a bill, SB 372, that would give tax reductions to companies that have over 2 million dollars in business equipment and pay for it with the removal of the tax credits used by the middle class for good clean energy savings and stimulates economies and jobs with main street businesses. Exxon Mobil will be a large beneficiary of 64 thousand dollars along (twice as much as the entire cost of the film tax credit) with the short fall balance of 23 million coming from schools, colleges, and taxpayer’s residential property tax in the general fund.
Because my business, Filmlites Montana, relies almost entirely on out of state filmmakers, it will be decimated with this bill. Therefore, I will speak for the film portion of the bill. Seventy five percent of the film crew professionals and a majority of the films shot in Montana have occurred in the Bozeman/Livingston area. The fact that Bozeman Senators Wittich and Balyeat have supported this bill, ignoring their constituents, is what really amazes me. Hundreds of people in Montana have benefited from the film industry throughout the state and especially in this region. Very little is paid out of the general fund to pay for the tax credit. Only 36 thousand was paid out in 2010 “ A very, very minor amount”, stated by Senator Lake. This is for a film industry that paid back in total 5 to 6 million in direct expenditures in shooting location areas and new Montana employee hires. I would say that is a pretty good deal for the Montana taxpayers. That is literally pennies paid out by taxpayers to support an entire clean Montana industry that is used as a giant commercial for the state, which brings in millions in new tourism and new investments. These Senators rely on the ignorance of the voters when stating “We don’t feel Montana tax payers want to subsidize Hollywood.” The truth is, this tax credit is for Montana businesses and the Montana jobs they bring to the state. They have to spend the money to get any subsidy.
Since the Big Sky on the Big Screen Act was enacted, over 40 states have a tax credit to entice filmmakers to shoot in their backyard. Montana is in about 25th place in the size of the credit. If the tax credit is not used enough it is because the legislature would not approve a larger one to become competitive. If a state has no tax credit, they will be looked over.
Remember, these newly elected legislators were about creating jobs? Destroying future looking clean industries so they can give tax breaks to large corporations, at the expense of middle class property owners, schools, and small businesses, shows more corporate protection ideology than job creating.
www.filmlitesproductions.com (political ads)