Policy Analyst Jarrett Skorup and Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy James Hohman explain in an MLive.com column why the state should get out of the business of subsidizing film production companies.

Skorup and Hohman note:

Despite handing out nearly $500 million over the years, the program has failed to create a sustainable film industry in Michigan. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are fewer film jobs in Michigan today (1,561) then when the program began in 2008 (1,663). In 2013, there were zero full-time jobs created by these subsidies, according to the latest reportfrom the Michigan Film Office.

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Over the years, the program has taken $131 from each household in Michigan and given it mostly to Hollywood film producers and studios. And while film producers certainly spend some of that money here in Michigan, taxpayers never come out ahead. The Senate Fiscal Agency found in 2010 that the program returned only 11 cents on the dollar. That's a poor investment.

Independent research on these types of programs is almost unanimous: Film subsidies just don't work. The fiscally conservative Tax Foundation says they "are costly and fail to live up to their promises." The left-of-center Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says movie production incentives are "a classic race to the bottom" with the economic benefits "more fiction than fact." The studies favoring these programs are usually sponsored by the film industry.

Mackinac Center experts have written repeatedly about how Michigan's Film Incentive Program fails to provide any benefits to taxpayers.


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