Please, enough with the state film subsidies

This New York Times headline “Hollywood Begs for a Tax Break in Some States, Including California”  was all I needed to read about this notorious and indisputably bad idea. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

State film subsidies are a wasteful, ineffective, and unfair instrument of economic development. While they appear to be a “quick fix” that provides jobs and business to state residents with only a short lag, in reality they benefit mostly non-residents, especially well-paid non-resident film and TV professionals. Some residents benefit from these subsidies, but most end up paying for them in the form of fewer services — such as education, healthcare, and police and fire protection — or higher taxes elsewhere. The benefits to the few are highly visible; the costs to the majority are hidden because they are spread so widely and detached from the subsidies.

State governments cannot afford to fritter away scarce public funds on film subsidies, or, for that matter, any other wasteful tax break. Instead, policymakers should broaden the base of their taxes to create a fairer and more neutral tax system. Economic development funds should be targeted on programs that are much more likely to be effective in the long run, such as support of education and training, enhancement of public safety, and maintenance and improvement of public infrastructure. Effective public support of economic development may not be glamorous, but at its best, it creates lasting benefits for residents from all walks of life.

Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukis, and AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

4 thoughts on “Please, enough with the state film subsidies

  1. Not to mention ag subsidies for tobacco farmers, Michele Bachmann’s subsidies, the rancher subsidy for that idiot who wanted to graze his cattle for free…defended by right wing militia men

    Pethokoukis is right. End them all.

    • subsidies for tobacco farmers, Michele Bachmann’s subsidies, the rancher subsidy for that idiot who wanted to graze his cattle for free“…

      Shouldn’t the rent seekers and the parasites in education, government’s socialized medical programs, and recipients of various Ag department meal programs have their subsidies done away with also?

    • Don’t forget all the subsidies for pro sports teams. E.g., the District of Columbia contributed $534 million towards the $700 million stadium for the Nationals. (And that’s by DC’s own figures – others put the cost higher, especially when interest is factored in). All revenue goes to the team – tickets, concessions, and advertising.

  2. But hasn’t that become the objective of government? To provide rewards to selected grateful winners at the expense of (largely) indifferent losers. That’s certainly what’s in the best interest of legislators.

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