HB 52, a bill introduced by Rep. Dennis Kintigh to do away with the 25% kickback to Hollywood film producers for expenses in New Mexico while filming, a program that cost taxpayers $82 million last year, was tabled in the House Labor and Human Resources Committee, by a partisan vote of 5-2. In a study by New Mexico State University at the end of 2008 the authors concluded the state got a rate of return of about 14.4 cents for each dollar paid out to the film industry, and a counter-study ordered by the state film agency (not exactly a neutral party), which set out to prove the state got $1.5o back for each dollar invested was laughed away by respectable think tanks, both conservative and liberal, by the LFC, and by the two highly respected economists who did the study at NMSU: click here for a great, funny article, about this whole episode.
In the next three weeks the legislature must come up with a budget that is about $1 billion less (this amounts to 20%) than in was ($6 billion) two years ago, trimming at least $500 million from the level set last year. These cuts are going to hurt many New Mexicans, with layoffs and lost benefits.
You would think that this kickback of taxpayer dollars to the film industry in California (and that's about what it is, just send in the bills and we'll pay 25%, with really no questions asked, we trust you.) might be one of the first places to cut. So why do you think that Reps. Miguel Garcia, Richard D. Vigil, Eleanor Chavez, Rick Miera, and Sheryl Stapleton Williams would slam the door shut so quickly with no debate, no airing, no consultation? Why was it not referred to other committees to see what other legislators thought? Why do our tax dollars have to be doled out again to Hollywood, when we're having trouble making ends meet?
The answer of course is that this giveaway is one of the governor's pet projects, so it has the glow of sacredness around it. Such is the state of affairs in Santa Fe that loyalty to a discredited, lame duck governor, whose unethical behavior with campaign contributors cost him a cabinet job in Washington, wins out over loyalty to state taxpayers, some of whom will lose jobs and benefits because of the fiscal crisis. Can you guys look at yourselves in the mirror with pride at this vote? Can you look at constituents in the eye and tell them truthfully why you voted to table this bill?