New Study confirms film subsidies are a boondoggle

Rarely is one vindicated so clearly and yet, clearly, the media is absolutely clueless (that second part about the media is not so rare). A new study done by the State was discussed in some detail in today’s Albuquerque Journal. The results are touted as showing that “film incentives pay off” and that the incentives are “linked to economic gains.”

The reality could not be more different and, unfortunately for our media friends, this fact could not be more obvious. Take just a few numbers from the Journal’s report:

Between 2010 and 2014, the state (taxpayers) paid out $251 million in incentives to the film industry with $103.6 million in state and local tax dollars generated. That is indeed 43 cents on the dollar as the study notes and last time I checked, if I gave you $1 and you gave me back 43 cents, you still owe me money or I’m getting ripped off (it is the latter in this case).

Curiously, this lack of full-time jobs was borne out by the Albuquerque Biz First which carried a listing (only partially available online) of the “top film and video production companies” in New Mexico by full-time employees. The top company in New Mexico has 13 employees and it doesn’t take long to get down the list to one and two person companies. I counted 74 full time employees among the top 21 companies. Perhaps some companies didn’t share how many workers they have and there are obviously greater numbers of part-time workers on any given production, but this is not exactly an industry that is going to lead New Mexico out of a recession with a cost of $50 million annually.

Updated: There was an error in the original posting involving subsidy per job. The correct cost per full-time job per the study is that each job cost taxpayers a bit more than $8,500.

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9 Replies to “New Study confirms film subsidies are a boondoggle”

  1. Like Dracula, the concept of taxpayer supported film subsidies simply refuses to die despite overwhelming evidence that it is a money loser. I think the study conducted several years ago by the State of Massachusetts (concluding it is a losing proposition for taxpayers) is considered to be the most comprehensive.

    1. The problem is that in New Mexico one is considered to be some kind of flat-earther if one states publicly that film subsidies don’t make economic sense.

  2. If film subsidies are a proven money loser and we are struggling economically as a state, why are politicians like Sue Beffort such strong supporters of the subsidy?

  3. Any breakdown of how much Santa Fe Studios brought in? How many jobs created? I heard it created 1,500 jobs. Are they part time jobs? How many were local? How much was spent by the County on infrastructure and loans?

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