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According to an article out of the Associated Press yesterday, the three main gubernatorial candidates in Wisconsin are all in agreement that the tax incentives for filmmaking there should be changed. How exactly they should go about changing those incentives, however, no one seems to be quite sure.

After candidate Tom Barrett (D) released statements in support of reinstating the 25-percent tax break in the state (drastically cut by Gov. Jim Doyle a year ago), neither of the main Republican candidates seems to be able to agree with him, despite the obvious advantages of such a reinstatement. Scott Walker says he's still "finalizing" a plan and looking at those of other states, while Mark Neumann says he didn't support the credits to begin with.

It all brings to the foreground a tax incentive debate in a not-too-distant land: that of Michigan, where credits of up to 42% for production costs spent in the state have lured in any number of A-list stars and lucrative productions to the struggling "mitten" in recent years.  There has been a great deal of debate, however, amongst politicians in Michigan as to whether those tax credits are too high, or whether they are just what is needed to seed a new industry's roots in the state.

Though the primaries aren't for another few weeks, the issue has recently come into play in the gubernatorial race. The Democratic race between House Speaker Andy Dillon and Lansing mayor Virg Bernero has the two Dems agreeing on little (one of their recent debates was seemingly nothing but 'rebuttal' cards and disagreement), but they do both recognize that tax breaks can be an effective means of bringing business investments to Michigan.

However Bernero, according to recent statements, only has a plan to reform the "transparency and accountability" aspects of the tax breaks. Dillon, on the other hand, says that one of the first things he intends to do as Governor is begin a systematic check of all the incentives currently in place, figuring out which ones are effective in creating jobs and which ones aren't. More importantly, however, Dillon has stated he is 100% behind the film tax incentives, earning him the support of many in Michigan's growing film industry, while Bernero has only given “we'll see” types of answers.  

While this isn't likely the issue that will tip voters one way or another when casting their ballots on August 3rd, it is an indicator of how each candidate views tax incentives as an incubator for new Michigan jobs.  Dillon seems committed to a complete review of what works and what doesn't and putting his full support behind where the state is succeeding, while Bernero is light on details for his plan. However, whether this issue will be an important one to the voters in the Democratic primary, now only two weeks away, remains to be seen.

Originally posted to hooveram on Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 10:14 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Virg Bernaro rules! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    libnewsie

    He was my mayor for three years in Lansing. Stood up for jobs and against corporate interests like nobody else.

    I'll tell you one thing, if I was still a Michigan resident there is not a chance in hell I'd be basing my vote on film incentives. Michigan has got bigger problems on its hands...obviously.

    Here is a video of Virg ripping a fox news anchor a new asshole:

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    Hilarious!

    You know we live in strange times when hearing something as simple as the truth almost seems shocking.

    by redhaze on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 12:45:52 AM PDT

    •  The bigger picture (0+ / 0-)

      Clearly Michigan has bigger problems than film tax incentives; I myself am a current Michigan resident, so I'm acutely aware of them. But these are all just pieces of the larger puzzle: which of them has the more concrete and effective economic plan, moving forward? Both candidates' plans should be closely examined by the voters in this crucial time frame - every detail, including tax incentives.

    •  The film incentives... (0+ / 0-)

      will play a huge role in my vote.  I love the film industry and would love to be involved in it.  I think it's one of the best things to have happened in Michigan recently.  It has attracted a lot of investment to the state that wouldn't have otherwise come here.

      "Filming expenditures in Michigan have increased from $125 million in 2008 to an estimated $223.6 million in 2009," according to the report.

      The total estimated credit paid by the state also increased from nearly $48 million in the 2008 report to $68.7 million in the 2009 report.

      http://www.mlive.com/...

      The film industry pumped 223.6 million into our economy in 2009 while that state only payed back $68.7 million.  Getting more in return is usually a good thing.  Any candidate who advocates ending the film incentives actually wants to put Michigan in a worse position.  I can't vote for someone who wants to send jobs and revenue out of the state.

      That being said, it seems like Bernero and Dillon have the same position on the incentives.  If there's actually quotes of Bernero showing uncertainty toward the film incentives, I would love to see the links.  It would effect my vote.    

      •  Bernero (0+ / 0-)

        My recollection is that he's said he supports the credits, but wouldn't commit to expanding them to cover other things like filming commercials and other "non-movie" productions.  Dillon did say he would support expanding them further.  

  •  Dillon is a fraud (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    redhaze

    He hasn't done jack-shit as leader of the House, except to follow orders from teabagger Mike Bishop in our Senate. He sold-out our cities, he sold-out our kids, he hasn't even produced a budget plan for this year.

    House Democrats undermined our governor in an attempt to protect their own jobs. No spine whatsoever. It's like the elections in '06 and '08 meant nothing to them. Now, it looks like we get to pay the price for their cowardice.

    When the Democrats lose big in Michigan this fall, you can thank Andy Dillon and the self-serving assholes in Lansing for it.

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