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.