Dems, Gov. clash over film cap

Posted at: 01/28/2013 4:26 PM
Updated at: 01/28/2013 5:18 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Democrats in the state legislature are on a collision course with Gov. Susana Martinez over the way taxpayers support the state's film industry.

Democrats want to get rid of the cap the Governor succeeded in putting on the state's film subsidy - it's $50 million a year - and while the Democrats say it's got to go the Republican Governor says it's got to stay.

Here's how it works: For just about every dollar you spend making a movie in New Mexico the state will give you back 25 cents. That's a sweet deal compared to film subsidies in most other states, but in 2011 the Governor convinced lawmakers to cap the total giveaway at $50 million a year. Democrats say it's time to pop that cap and grow the film industry.

"We want to convince her that removing the cap is going to be the best for the industry," said Sen. Phil Griego, who represents a far-flung district in Northern New Mexico. "It's going to send a message to the industry that New Mexico is open to the making of films."

But Gov. Martinez is sticking to her guns, saying there needs to be a limit on what the taxpayers are shelling out to the movie makers.

"What makes the film incentive cap so important is that it makes budgeting more predictable," Martinez said. "I'm not going to take money out of a classroom and tell kids the money is going to the film industry instead of the kids."

New Mexicans in the film industry hope to convince Martinez that lifting the cap will create more jobs in a hurry.

"You put in jobs immediately," said Jon Hendry of the IATSE film technicians union. "If you want good high-paying union jobs - I emphasize union jobs - jobs with benefits - the type of jobs that you want here in New Mexico - we can have them in 90 days."

Gov. Martinez does favor allowing any unused film incentive money under the $50 million cap to be carried over into the next year's amount. Right now that does not appear to be popular with the movie people.