New Legislative Bills to End Incentives for Filming Movies and Television in Texas
After cutting Texas' filming incentive program by two-thirds last year, new legislative bills look to completely dismantle the program.
The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program originated in 2004 to offer tax breaks to production companies that create television shows, movies, video games, commercials, and other pop culture media in the state. Last year, state legislators reduced the funding to the program by two-thirds. Recently, State Senators Robert Hall (R-Edgewood) and Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) and Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) all filed bills intent on completely eliminating the program.
While those who oppose the program argue its not worth the money spent, supporters argue that legislators aren't looking at the numbers correctly. John Wildman, a local filmmaker and publicist for the Dallas Film Society, told The Dallas Observer,
There is a patented failure to do basic math. You can play with numbers as people do with issues like this, but it is proven beyond a doubt that there is a beneficial return whether it be tax dollars, something like 2 to 1, or whether it's simply money that's fueled into the economy, and that's something like 5 to 1. You can shave numbers one way or the other but no matter how you look at this, there is an economic benefit to Texas and the communities and it's not just one industry but the entire state and economic base with these incentive programs.
Mindy Raymond, executive director of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance, noted that the state earns back around $4.50 for every $1 it gives out in incentives, and the state has handed out $1.7 billion since the program went active in 2006.
Incentive programs such as this one are becoming major draws for production companies, becoming more important than locations, crew, and equipment costs. Janis Burklund, director of the Dallas Film Commission, said that the cutting of the incentive program has already caused harm, costing the state jobs and revenue,
The showrunners [for Halt and Catch Fire on AMC]were from here and wanted to shoot here but the studios don't let them come because of the incentives. We'll have no shot at any of the big feature films or TV shows. They can be the gift that keeps giving if they stick around, and Atlanta's kicking our butt right now.