State Senate eyes new plan to save Michigan's film incentive program
A new proposal to save Michigan’s film incentive program scales back the current program that expires at the end of the year and provides more money for productions that use Michigan workers and facilities.
“I don’t want to pull the rug out from under the industry,” Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said Wednesday. “Let’s put a structure together that’s competitive with the rest of the country, and then decide if we can afford to keep the industry.”
Gov. Rick Snyder opposed the old program that effectively provided state grants equal to as much as 42 percent of a film’s Michigan production costs. One of the most generous in the nation, the incentive made Michigan an emerging hub for movie making. Now the state is losing productions to its competitors.
That program’s current framework expires at the end of the year along with the Michigan Business Tax. Snyder did agree to fund $25 million in new film grants for the next two fiscal years. Movie proponents say that approach is neither large enough nor secure enough to keep the state competitive for projects.
Richardville’s proposal would start out as a five-year plan funded through annual appropriations. He isn’t averse to spending the $100 million annually the state is roughly spending now.
“I think we want to show that there is a commitment to the industry over a period of time,” he said.
His plan would provide grants equal to:
- 27 percent of direct production expenditures in Michigan.
- 30 percent of Michigan personnel expenditures through 2015, when it would dip to 25 percent.
- 27 percent for qualifying personnel costs for non-Michigan workers, which would drop to 12 percent in 2015.
Productions at Michigan-owned studios would receive a bonus of 2 to 5 percentage points. Commercials and video game production, typically the product of Michigan-based firms, would also qualify for funding.
“We are trying to provide incentives for Michigan businesses, a re-educated Michigan workforce and also the (production) infrastructure in Michigan,” Richardville said.
Richardville said backers of the program, including those in the industry, would have to make the case to Snyder in particular that it makes economic sense.
"We're going to have to put pencil to paper and show that there is a real good return for years to come," he said. "That's what I've challenged the industry to do, not market it so much, but analyze it and give us some stuff that a business decision maker would be able to deal with."
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