« Not a Union Member? Why You Should Care About Wisconsin (or Ohio or Michigan) | Main | Rep. Ben Ray Luján Highlights $1.6 Million in YouthBuild Grants for Northern New Mexico »

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Watch Susana Martinez Flip Flop on Film Industry Tax Rebates: Ask Her to Keep Her Word

The short video clip above show's New Mexico's Republican governor, Susana Martinez, flip flopping on her position about the increasingly vital film industry in our state. During the campaign Martinez said, "I certainly support the film industry being in New Mexico and being second in he nation, second to Hollywood."

Susana also said that, if elected, she would "order an independent economic review" of film incentives. "We have to do a good, tough, strong audit and then make it very visible to voters. I want to make sure that we give this information to New Mexicans -- open the books so you understand how good it is for this state or not. If it's great for the state, we'll keep on doing it at full force," Martinez said.

She never did. Instead, she called for New Mexico's film incentives to be cut from 25% to 15% almost as soon as she was sworn in. That's called bait and switch.

Take Action: Let's hold Susana Martinez accountable and ask her to keep her word about getting an independent economic review before doing anything to jeopardize the 10,000+ jobs the industry has created in New Mexico, as well as the many financial benefits to a myriad of small, local businesses that the film industry has created here. Call the governor at 505-476-2200.

Senate Tracking and Review Bill
By the way, Senate Bill 44, Film Production Tax Credit Tracking and Review, sponsored by Sen. Tim Keller (D-Albuquerque), passed the Senate yesterday by a vote of 39-0 and now moves to the New Mexico House. The bill requires exactly what Martinez originally said she wanted -- a clear assessment of the impact of New Mexico's Film Production Tax Credit on the citizens of the state.

"With this consensus bill, we will know exactly how much money is spent on film, and what our return on investment is,” said Sen. Keller. Eric Witt, executive director of the Motion Picture Association of New Mexico, said the industry supports the legislation. Read more about the bill here.

Take Action: SB 44 will be heard in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee (HRTC) next up. Please call or email your representative in the House, as well as members of the HRTC and urge them to support SB 44.

House Film Industry Bill
Awaiting action on the House side is HTRC Substitute for HB 607/HB622, a flawed compromise bill that puts a $45 million cap on annual expenditures for the film industry tax credit, as well as other measures aimed at delaying payments and tightening requirements. The annual cap had originally been $65 million. The Motion Picture Association of New Mexico opposes the Committee Substitute:

"We spent five weeks working in good faith with House leadership of both parties to come to a resolution that would satisfy Governor Martinez’s claimed need to fill a $25 million "hole" in the state's $5.4 billion budget. The product of the negotiations was good for the both the industry and the 10,000 New Mexicans whose jobs depend on film related business. Unfortunately, the compromise was sabotaged at the last minute by Republican members of the House Tax Committee and Democrat Sandra Jeff on Saturday.  The substitute measure eventually passed by the House Tax Committee violates both the spirit and the letter of the agreement reached during our lengthy negotiations," said Eric Witt, MPANM Executive Director. 

... A recent MPANM statewide poll found that 68.9% of New Mexicans support incentives in general but less than 35% support those incentives for the energy industry

My view: If any changes are made to the present film industry tax credit, the annual cap should be moved up to the original $65 million level -- which should be seen as the lowest acceptable cap. Better yet, this proposed change and any others should be delayed, and the House should instead pass Sen. Keller's study legislation, SB 44. It's plain crazy to play around with the film industry program before we know what the facts are. Please let your House member and HTRC members know.

Richardson Weighs In
Over the weekend, an op-ed supportive of the film industry tax rebate by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson appeared in The New York Times. Excerpt:

Unfortunately, a new campaign is under way to curtail or even eliminate these film and TV programs in many states, including my own. Some politicians call the incentives fiscally irresponsible, or giveaways to “liberal” Hollywood. The latter charge is mere propaganda. The former gets traction in states whose programs are not well designed. But when incentives are especially effective — as they are in New Mexico, Louisiana and Michigan — they can bring huge benefits to the state economy.

In New Mexico we scaled our incentives to match our specific tax structure, and we invested in programs at our universities and community colleges to train screenwriters, directors, actors, grips, electricians, makeup artists and other film professionals. As a result, we created more than 10,000 jobs in this industry and in supporting businesses, bringing nearly $4 billion into our economy over eight years. These are huge numbers for a state with a population of only about 2.1 million — especially with the country still recovering from a recession.

March 1, 2011 at 06:16 PM in Action Alerts, Film, Gov. Bill Richardson, Jobs, NM Legislature 2011 | Permalink

Comments

This is a no brainer. Don't kill jobs to prove a point Susana. Just because you detest Bill Richardson, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Posted by: Ewen | Mar 1, 2011 7:59:26 PM

(QUOTE)She never did. Instead, she called for New Mexico's film incentives to be cut from 25% to 15% almost as soon as she was sworn in. That's called bait and switch.(QUOTE)

That's called being a republican. Susana Martinez is like every other republican out there. Kill jobs, cut taxes for the top 2%, give polluting corporations full reign to do anything they want and then tell the working and middle class families they're a bunch of pigs that need to make all the sacrifices.

Posted by: Dana | Mar 3, 2011 8:33:22 AM