Study shows film tax incentives pay off

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A study that lawmakers have been waiting years for, finally sheds light on if New Mexico is simply throwing tax dollars into a film industry that isn’t benefiting the state.

New Mexico’s film industry has often been overshadowed by the daunting question, is the state giving too much for too little?

It’s a concern that even led to Governor Susana Martinez capping the program at $50 million.

On Tuesday, an independent study of the state’s film incentives was released. Supporters of the program said it shows the state is winning from the tax incentive program.

Senator Tim Keller pushed for the study more than three years ago. He said he’s pleased by what the study shows.

“It’s basically saying that this is the most successful job creation in our state,” Keller said.

An independent group called MNP analyzed the past four years of the state’s film production tax incentive program. It showed, during that time 8,851 full-time jobs were created and directly linked to productions, with another 6,997 positions generated through indirect or induced spending.

The average salary was $52,723.

“For New Mexico it is a very good wage,” Keller said. “Technically that categorized as a high wage job.”

Keller said the study shows the incentive program is paying for itself. However, he believes the benefits could have been greater.

In 2011, Governor Susana Martinez capped the incentives at $50 million per year. The study shows that in the years following about 20-fewer productions came to the state.

“I think what this study shows is even with those cut backs the program is still strong and there’s probably more we can do with regards to creating jobs in our state,” Keller said.

A bill was passed last spring increasing the tax credit New Mexico gives to TV shows. It’s called the “Breaking Bad” bill and supporters say it’s working because the show’s prequel “Better Call Saul” decided to film in Albuquerque.

Originally, the governor was against it but went for it when it was lumped into a bigger tax package. The governor said, in regards to the report, the state has much more to offer with TV and movie productions and our communities are clearly benefiting.

Senator Keller believes after the findings of this report there will be more film incentives on the table next legislative session.

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