A few days ago I discussed the generous incentives that have been used to attract filmmakers to New Mexico. I’ve had several questions about which study I believe to be more accurate and unequivocally I say the Arrowhead Center Study which was done at the request of the Legislative Finance Committee, not the Ernst and Young study, is closer to the truth. But, we have been talking about these subsidies for the film industry for a long time (see this entry from 2004) saying that they are bad public policy and should be eliminated.
But what about an objective, outside opinion on the studies’ relative merits. Here is an interesting analysis from “The Contrarian.” A couple of choice quotes from the posting indicate the reasons to be skeptical of the Ernst & Young study:
It’s hard to explain the discrepancy without culling through footnotes and looking at the methodology and data used. But the study commissioned by the governor’s office might be slightly more suspect, given the political and economic capital Richardson has invested in the issue. Even the pro-subsidy report concedes that the direct economic benefits don’t make up for the foregone tax revenue, dollar for dollar. But it manages to find a net benefit by estimating the present and future impact of “film tourism.”
Does anyone really choose New Mexico as a vacation destination because some scene in an Indiana Jones movie was shot there? Possibly. But this seems a slender thread on which to hang a program that has handed out an estimated $67 million in tax breaks since 2003. And does Steven Spielberg really need the handout? I think not.