Phoenix, AZ – The bill would give those who make movies, commercials and music
videos a state tax credit equal to 20 percent of what they spend.
The legislation, which already has cleared the Senate, was
supposed to go to the House Ways and Means Committee. But Rep.
Jack Harper who chairs the panel, yanked it from consideration.
In a memo obtained by Arizona Public Radio, Harper said he was
concerned that lawmakers would be subject to -- quote --
coercion and possible attempted bribes. And he said that the
possible gain by film producers of $50 million from the
legislation suggests -- quoting again -- felony quid-pro-quos are
bound to materialize. Asked about the memo, Harper back-pedaled -
- but just a bit.
(The word possible was in there. I think when entities get
desperate to swindle the taxpayers out of tens of millions of
dollars, they'll resort to dubious means. I don't know if anyone
in particular has been doing that.)
Harper said he is offended at provisions which make the tax
credits refundable: If a company doesn't incur enough liability
on its Arizona returns to cover the credits, the state will send
the firm a check for the difference. Harper's move annoyed Sen.
John Nelson who crafted the bill. He acknowledged that an audit
showed that a prior tax credit law, which has since expired, cost
the state more than it generated. But Nelson said this is
different, modeled after a New Mexico law he said has been
successful. And Nelson figures Arizona could do a better job of
attracting producers than its neighbor to the east.
(We're closer to California. They have to come through here. We
can stop them on the way, hijack them if you will and get them to
stop here. We have the climate, we have the environment. You can
do the winter scenes, you can do the summer scenes, the desert
scenes, you can wait for the rains and get into some...
Everything I think that somebody would want to do in a movie they
can do here.)
There's some reason for Arizona to be jealous. Among the results
of New Mexico's ability to attract filmmakers was the production
of the 2008 movie Hamlet 2. The story about a high school drama
teacher is supposed to take place at a Tucson school. A New
Mexico school filled in as a replacement. For Arizona Public
Radio this is Howard Fischer.