Patt Morrison for February 18, 2011

Tax dollars in – tax dollars out – filming beyond California borders

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

A Chicago police officer stands guard in front of a staged car accident during the filming of the movie Transformers 3, in the "Windy City."

For the last few years, the state of Michigan – like many other states around the country - has offered lucrative tax credits to film companies in order to lure business; in fact those incentives have been among the most generous in the nation. But in the midst of a budget crunch, Governor Rick Snyder’s new fiscal plan would eliminate the uncapped business credits for film and instead allocate $25 million in general fund dollars for film incentives, beginning in fiscal 2012. Economists and politicians differ on the benefits of these subsidies to state coffers, depending on how the numbers are tweaked and interpreted, while the real issue is – do these subsidies create permanent jobs or just temporary employment. And to the home town interest, will this be a boon for the movie business here in California, where it all began?


Kevin Klowden, Managing Economist for the Milken Institute, a California-based think tank

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