SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Rebates paid to companies filming in New Mexico have plunged since the state enacted a yearly $50 million cap on film incentives spending.
The Taxation and Revenue Department said 85 film rebate applications totaling more than $19 million were approved during the fiscal year that ended June 30. Another 27 applications that add up to more than $14 million in rebates were pending.
While the paid rebates dropped from $102 million in 2011, the number of approved applications increased from 55, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford attributed the drop in rebates to an industry-wide slowdown and a rush to file rebate claims before the cap was approved last year. But others believe differently.
"What we did by capping the film credit is scare off business," said Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales.
The New Mexico Film Office had predicted the approved rebates for the last fiscal year would fall short of the $50 million limit. The state currently offers a 25 percent film credit.
Martinez signed off on the cap, saying the "Hollywood subsidies" would better be spent on public education and health care. Martinez had sought to cut the rebate to 15 percent when she took office, but she ultimately agreed with lawmakers on the $50 million annual cap.
Anything filed after the limit is reached falls into a queue for payment the next year.
The state, under former Gov. Bill Richardson, expanded financial incentives to attract industry to the state.
Martinez's administration is producing a study on the rebate program's impact on state tourism, education and job creation under a mandate from the Legislature last year. Three state agencies are overseeing the study, which is expected to stretch over the course of several years.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.