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Four stars for expanded NM film tax incentives

The New Mexico film tax incentives have been a runaway success, so I am glad to see that Senate Bill 2, which will expand the incentive program, is advancing in the Legislature.

Since 2016, productions shot in New Mexico include six feature films, eight television series and another five TV pilots from Red River to Albuquerque to Las Cruces – employing more than 10,000 cast and crew, and 30,000 part-time extras.

The film and television business has, since 2003, accounted for $3.44 billion in local spending – on wages and payments to New Mexico businesses that sell goods and services to productions.

And that does not include the positive impact on tourism. The film incentive program has also been a significant factor in attracting Netflix to Albuquerque.

So I was surprised to see that Dick Minzner’s March 11 opinion piece, “Why NM should yell ‘cut’ on film subsidies,” still found room to criticize our current film incentive program and plans to expand it. He is plain wrong – film and TV production creates jobs – good, middle-class jobs.

Our state has experienced growth in this sector in the past several years. Each film and TV series may be a temporary business – in existence only for the duration of the project. But each project paves the way for the next, and crew members find steady work as more film and TV projects locate in New Mexico.

And, contrary to Minzer’s assertions, states that are making the commitment to the movie and television business are rewarded. California extended its successful incentive program in 2018. Hawaii is expanding its program this year. Illinois, Georgia and New York are among those states with ongoing incentive programs that provide robust employment and continuing production activity.

SB 2 will create more jobs, business activity and tourism for our state. And the bill includes safeguards to limit the cost each year to the state budget. The legislation also incentivizes production outside Albuquerque and Santa Fe, so that more communities can reap the rewards of movies and TV shows filming across our great state.

Mr. Minzner should follow the example of his fellow Democrat, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who supports SB 2 to expand the film tax incentive program. New Mexico has built an impressive film industry. SB 2 positions our state to build on that success.