Study of film incentives still not done

SANTA FE (KRQE) — Do New Mexico's film incentives help or hurt the state's economy? There's been a lot of argument about that but still no sign of the hard answers one legislator has been expecting.

Last year the Legislature passed a bill ordering a study of the incentives to be finished by the summer.

"We're already almost six months past the statutory deadline, so we're in violation of our own statute," bill sponsor Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, told KRQE News 13.

Keller said he wanted the study completed so the Legislature could revisit the state's film incentive program in the upcoming 60-day session that begins on Jan. 15.

Production companies are reimbursed a quarter of what they spend in New Mexico to shoot movies and TV shows. Last year, the state scaled the program back to cap yearly payouts at $50 million.

Previously, the state shelled out more than $100 million a year.

Cutting the film incentive program was one of the governor's biggest goals. But Keller said it isn't a priority for the administration anymore.
He blames the governor's office for not pushing to finish the film study.

"We're kind of stuck in quicksand, trying to answer the same questions we've been asking ourselves for years," said Keller.

But both the governor's office and New Mexico Film Office said the state is taking its time with the report.

"This is the first full year of data that is available under the current film subsidy, and that data is necessary for a complete evaluation of the program," Greg Blair, a spokesman for the governor, said. "As we have seen in the past, the results of such an evaluation can vary widely, which is why this process must be done professionally and take full consideration of all available data."

Film Office spokeswoman Angela Heisel also said it's trying to figure out how it will pay for the study, which it estimates will cost $250,000.

"There was no deadline in the legislation, and because it was unfunded the state has to search for the funding to complete the study," said Heisel.

Keller said the study should actually cost about $50,000. He also said it would be done a lot faster if the state handled the report instead of hiring an outside firm.

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New Mexico (change)

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.
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Governor: Susana Martinez
Lieutenant Governor: John Sanchez
Attorney General: Gary King
Secretary of State: Dianna J. Durán

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