What would $100 million a year buy for Louisiana?
Quite a lot, including the $1,000 pay raise that Gov. John Bel Edwards wants to give teachers. Or it would pay the bonds on a new bridge in Baton Rouge, desperately needed and for which the state doesn’t have the money. Or patch some of the leaking water lines under the city of New Orleans.
That $100 million figure is worth more than all the new money that the state wants to give to colleges or universities this year. It’s also more than the $86 million that the state needs to give poor kids a better start in life in early childhood education.
You could make a list of dozens of suggestions for spending such a sum, but Edwards and legislators would rather argue over how to pay for those ostensible priorities than do the simplest thing: Eliminate the state’s film tax credit and save the taxpayer about $100 million a year.
For every dollar that the state spends on tax credit programs for the entertainment industry — and those are mainly the film credits — state and local governments combined get about 36 cents back.
Despite changes made by lawmakers to rein in the state's film tax credit, taxpayers still lose roughly two-thirds of the money they put into t…
So the state blows two out of three dollars, totaling about $100 million of the $150 million authorized every year.
And that waste is down, incredibly, from years when the state larded out the Hollywood credits on an even larger scale. It’s now capped at the $150 million level, and those films getting in the queue receive 40 percent credits for their in-state production.
Instead of decrying this boondoggle, Edwards went to an entertainment industry “summit” to laud the results. That was the same event at which the new study of the costs of the film tax credit was released. And the analysis showed just about the same poor economics of the program that earlier studies have shown.
The governor has also trekked to California to promote more made-in-Louisiana, and funded-in-Louisiana, movies and shows.
In Louisiana government, it’s always “Groundhog Day.” We make the same mistakes over and over, with disregard for the evidence.
Unfortunately, enthusiasm for the waste of taxpayer money is generally bipartisan in Louisiana.
“Green Book,” which won the Best Picture trophy at the Oscars on Sunday, is a feel-good movie about a white bodyguard taking a black musician …
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, lauded “an extra boost to our local economy” from films. Ironically, his praise involved a new taxpayer-supported film, “The Highwaymen.” Whether or not this irony was intentional, it is certainly a sign that too many politicians are dazzled by Hollywood lights.
Louisiana can do a lot with $100 million. Instead, it’s being shipped out of state by our own government, to pad the payrolls of highwaymen from Hollywood.