New Mexico’s film subsidy program, which the Legislature recently increased from a maximum of $50 million to a maximum of $110 million annually, is excessive in relation to New Mexico’s small population and in comparison with other controversial public projects.
About two-thirds of the states have film subsidy programs, 25 of which have dollar caps. Most small states, including New Mexico’s neighbors, have very small programs. According to a January 2018 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the following are our neighbors’ annual caps: Colorado $1.25 million, Oklahoma $4 million, Nevada $10 million. Texas and Utah annually appropriate varying amounts. Texas appropriated $22 million and Utah $8.3 million in fiscal 2018. Arizona and Kansas have no subsidy programs.
Only three states have caps higher than New Mexico’s $110 million. California and New York’s caps are three and four times as high as New Mexico’s, but their populations are respectively 19 and nine times New Mexico’s. Louisiana’s cap is about 35% higher than New Mexico’s and its population is more than twice New Mexico’s.
With one exception, the states without program caps have been paying amounts which, proportional to their population, are less than New Mexico’s new cap. The exception is Georgia, five times the size of New Mexico, with subsidy payments reaching $800 million annually.