Iowa's legislators may not be able to bring themselves to kill the scandal-ridden film tax credit program, reports the Quad City Times:
A three-member subcommittee of the Senate Ways and Means Committee will consider a bill this afternoon that was introduced by Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, seeking to end the controversial tax credit program for film, television and video projects.
However, full committee chairman, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said he expects lawmakers will move to suspend rather than eliminate the program before the legislature adjourns.
"My judgment is that there will be an attempt that will get support to suspend the credit, either to a year from now or potentially for a longer period of time than that," Bolkcom said. "I think there’s more support to suspend than to completely kill the program."
Senator Quirmbach has pointed out that when you fund film credits, that money comes from somewhere:
"This last year, the (film) credits cost $38.6 million," he said. "For that kind of money, I could save the jobs of 1,000 teachers. You tell me what's more important to the future of Iowa: 1,000 teachers or having Meryl Streep come visit."
It's not just an academic question:
Elementary and high school teachers in Des Moines' schools would have more students in their classrooms next fall and youngsters in kindergarten through fifth grades would spend less time in art, music and physical education, under budget proposals unveiled Friday.
The proposal calls for slashing an unprecedented $33 million from next year's budget and eliminates nearly 480 positions, most of them teachers.
The reductions affect every school and employee group, Superintendent Nancy Sebring said.
But think of what film credits can do for your state's culture:
Florida is considering changing its film and television tax credits to ban recipients from airing gay characters. That's right. The federal government is thinking about letting gays serve openly in the Marine Corps, but the state of Florida thinks there is something wrong with gays appearing on television. I guess anything with Ellen DeGeneres or Ru Paul is out.
Current Florida law grants tax credits on productions considered "family friendly" - with no smoking, sex, nudity or profane language. Violence has been okay so far. Republican Rep. Stephen Precourt would increase the credit and expand the field of disqualified productions to those that include any "exhibit or implied act" of nontraditional family values and gratuitous violence. Precourt says that shows with gay characters would not be something he'd want "to invest public dollars in."
Surely our intrepid subsidized filmmakers wouldn't stoop so low as to sell out for a mess of
pottage government cash? Well, the film industry is known for its integrity.
And think of the intangible economic benefits of the Louisiana film credits:
New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey and former defensive lineman Charles Grant are suing ex-teammate Kevin Houser over investments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars tied to a now-defunct movie studio.
Shockey and Grant paid for what they thought would be state movie industry tax credits returning $1.33 for each dollar they invested.
State officials say Wayne Read, the CEO of the bankrupt Louisiana Film Studios LLC, never applied for the credits and the money was never returned to investors.
Yes, who needs teachers? We can meet movie stars!
Related: Let them eat canapes
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