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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Despite huge deficits, Del. Griffith plans handouts to rich filmmakers

(Posted 28 Jan 2009)

Comment: More wasteful corporate welfare being proposed by a tax and spend Democrat (chair of the county delegation) who apparently does not care that the state is virtually broke.  Why does Del, Griffith think film producers deserve our limited tax money more than schools, public safety, or health care?

Hollywood hypes benefits of taxpayer handouts.
Sun, 28 Jan 2009 (Hancock).
Entertainment moguls don't need to con little old ladies to finance productions any more, as they did in Mel Brooks' The Producers and its spinoffs.

After all, there are state taxpayers to fleece.

Hollywood is getting struggling states to bid higher and higher for the glamour and supposed economic benefits of on-site film production. Maryland is joining the game. Del. Melony Ghee Griffith (D-25), a Prince George's County Democrat, says she'll introduce legislation that would have the state pay 28 percent of film-production costs incurred here.

"Maryland doesn't have anything close to being competitive" with other states, says director Barry Levinson, who was promoting the bill in Annapolis yesterday. "Unless state officials do something in terms of becoming more film-friendly, Maryland will continue to lose out."
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"There's no way you can say these things make money" for the state budget, says Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the Louisiana Legislature. Extra tax revenue generated by films, he adds, "is not going to come close to the direct payment you're going to make. Basically, you're just flowing money out of the public treasury into the private sector."

In fiscal 2007, Louisiana paid $106 million to film producers and got back what Albrecht estimates was $15 million in added tax revenue. Net cost to taxpayers: $91 million that could have been spent on schools, roads and health care.
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To repeat: Under this proposal the state would pay studios directly. Little of the money moviemakers spend would end up with Comptroller Peter Franchot. It's a net cost to the state of potentially tens of millions a year as it faces a budget shortfall of $2 billion.

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