Surprise, surprise, another player in the local film industry wants to public to stop scrutinizing the generous subsidies given to it. That’s the message from Dana Arnold, CEO at Albuquerque Studios. I find it rich that the head of a company that is propped up by about $50 million annually from the taxpayer would say “stop the politics.” This is a well-connected, politically-savvy industry that has extracted subsidies from dozens of states across the nation. That’s as bad as the “Get the Government out of my Medicare” message that surfaced at a few tea party gatherings.
Specifically, the author argues that taxpayer subsidies create jobs for New Mexicans. Of course, spending $50 million or more annually (or, better yet, returning that money to taxpayers) would generate jobs and, because individual businesses and entrepreneurs are better at allocating scarce resources than government, New Mexico would see greater prosperity by allowing average New Mexicans to have their money back.
Rather than continuing to subsidize this (or any other industry), New Mexico policymakers should wean them off subsidies and instead focus on adopting low, fair, and transparent tax policies along with rules and regulations that increase fairness and opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. In terms of specifics, I think New Mexico should reduce the percentage subsidy by one percentage point annually, starting at 25%, down to 24%, then to 23%, and so on. That will free up limited resources to a larger number of projects in the short-term and will ultimately lead to this industry-specific subsidy program being phased out.