Louisiana’s film tax credit program could be on its last reel, as Alexandria Senator Jay Luneau plans to file legislation to eliminate the incentives. Luneau says in tough budget times, lawmakers need to assess the return on investment of state funded programs.
He says a recent study by LSU economist Loren Scott shows the return isn’t there when it comes to film tax credits.
“Mr. Scott found that the return on investment is 23 cents for every dollar we spend. So that means that we’re losing money on this program, and it’s gone on for too long,” Luneau said.
Luneau says if that analysis is correct, the state has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the program. But Executive Director of Celtic Media Studios in Baton Rouge Patrick Mulhearn discredits Scott’s study.
“The studies are flawed that say that we’re not getting as much back to the state treasury and especially local governments where you’re seeing a $4.62 economic impact for every dollar that’s spent,” Mulhearn said.
A $180 million back-end cap was placed on the film tax credit program in 2015. But Mulhearn hopes legislators work to improve the program, instead of eliminating it, because the film industry is a huge job creator.
“At least 13,000 jobs were created by the film industry being here, and for every film industry job another two indirect jobs are created,” Mulhearn said.
But Luneau doesn’t think removing this tax incentive would destroy Louisiana’s film industry. He says there were plenty of great movies made in Louisiana before the state ever offered film tax credits.
“Look at the film Steel Magnolias for example, but it’s one of those things at what price tag do we buy that, and frankly we just can’t afford it,” Luneau said.