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Eye on the Right: Adding Anti-Gay Provision to Wasteful Film Tax Credits in Florida

In recent years, states have become enamored with the film industry, offering generous tax credits to lure the next Hollywood blockbuster.  As PSN has noted in previous Dispatches, these credits are costly, favor out-of-state workers, offer minimal to no returns, do not create permanent jobs, and place an excessive burden on taxpayers in a time of economic uncertainty.  The Massachusetts Department of Revenue recently determined that in twelve states that administer a film tax credit, the return is extremely meager-- finding that states were only getting back "$.0.07 to $.0.28 per dollar of tax credit granted."

Adding a discriminatory twist on a fiscally inefficient program, Florida conservatives are advancing HB697, a $75 million film tax credit bill, that contains a clause prohibiting movies that display "nontraditional family values" from receiving state dollars.  Lawmakers have declined to specify what they actually consider "traditional" or "nontraditional" family values.  Although the bill's sponsor, Rep. Stephen Precourt, claimed that he did not intend to target the gay community, when asked if films with gay characters should receive the credit, he responded, "[t]hat would not be the kind of thing I'd say that we want to invest public dollars in."

Using wasteful tax credits to advance right-wing social values is just another indication of the hollowness of conservative claims of "fiscal responsibility."  Even as Florida is facing a $147 million mid-year budget gap and a projected $4.7 billion FY2011 deficit, right-wing lawmakers have somehow found revenue to fund an ineffective program that intentionally discriminates against the gay community.

Resources:
Good Jobs First - More States Yell "Cut" on Film Tax Credits
Iowa Department of Management - Tax Credit Review Report
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue - A Report on the Massachusetts Film Industry Tax Incentives
Massachusetts Rep. Steven D'Amico - A Primer on the Massachusetts Film Incentives
Tax Foundation - Movie Production Incentives: Blockbuster Support for Lackluster Policy