Saturday, May 31, 2008

Film Credits

New concerns about the tax credits enacted to lure the film industry to Michigan are yet another example of the utter lack of common sense in our legislature.

Here's how it works: If you bring a film crew to Michigan, the state gives you a credit for 42% of what you spend. The State actually writes a check to subsidize the expenses. So if you spend $1 million, the state gives you $420,000 back - and this is somehow supposed to build a film industry in Michigan?

The fact that film crews are flooding into the state indicates that maybe they gave away a bit too much of the store on this one. Who wouldn't take advantage of this? It is an unbelievable giveaway.

But will it really help the Michigan economy? My understanding about how film crews work is that they bring most of the people and equipment with them, and then take it all away when they are done. They will hire some locals as extras, and maybe even some skilled trades. They will stay in motels and eat at restaurants but I don't see how this constitutes an "industry". As soon as the subsidies are gone, goodbye films.

If Lansing decided to give every tourist from Indiana a check for 42% of what they spent on their vacation in Michigan, we would have a hell of a summer. Would it help build the tourism industry? I don't think so, because as soon as the subsidies ended, so would the traffic.

Sure it will be fun to have Clint Eastwood in town, but is this really a smart way to spend money we don't have?

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