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Martinez vetoes ‘Breaking Bad’ bill

SANTA FE — Gov. Susana Martinez struck down legislation Friday aimed at making the state a more attractive filming destination for television shows.

However, a Democratic sponsor of the so-called “Breaking Bad” bill said he hoped similar legislation could be wrapped into a broader tax package, and the House was working Friday night to try to find a way to revive the measure.

“By giving the governor more time to reflect on the budget and other bills, I’m confident that this critical jobs legislation will become law,” House Majority Whip Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said in a statement.

Martinez also suggested she would be willing to reconsider the legislation if lawmakers were to send it back to her as part of a larger package.

Meanwhile, the Republican governor’s veto of the film measure drew howls of protest from film industry backers, who had delivered hundreds of pro-film petitions to her office in recent days.

“For a state struggling with income inequality and joblessness, it is appalling that Gov. Martinez would veto House Bill 379 — a bill that would bring thousands of jobs in the film and media technical industries to the state,” said Chelsey Evans, the state director for the labor-affiliated Working America organization.

“It makes no sense to veto this — there’s no fiscal impact,” added Jon Hendry, the business agent for a local film workers union.

Dubbed the “Breaking Bad” bill after a popular Albuquerque-based TV show, the measure would have allowed qualifying television shows to take in a larger tax rebates from the state, but would have kept an annual limit on rebates in place.

New Mexico currently offers a 25 percent rebate to film companies for most direct, in-state expenditures. Under the bill, long-running television shows would also be eligible for an additional 5 percent credit — or 30 percent in all.

In her Friday veto message to lawmakers, Martinez cited the Legislature’s failure to approve a package of tax breaks she had proposed as a reason for the veto.

“Unfortunately, as of the time I am required to take action on this bill, the Legislature has chosen to only pass a package to increase subsidies to Hollywood, while failing to pass reforms designed to diversify our economy and help New Mexico businesses grow,” Martinez wrote.

Upon taking office in 2011, Martinez successfully pushed to trim the state’s film tax credit program, claiming money that could have been used for public schools was instead being spent on rebates for film companies.

However, Martinez said in her veto message Friday that she supports the film industry as an “important contributor” to the state’s economy.

In addition to the expanded incentives for qualifying TV shows, the measure vetoed Friday would have also enacted new limits on giving rebates to nonresidents, while allowing up to $10 million unused under the state’s annual $50 million cap on film rebates to be carried forward for use in future budget years.

It received bipartisan backing in both chambers of the Legislature, with the House approving it 64-0 and the Senate endorsing it 32-8.

A top-ranking executive at Walt Disney Co. told the Journal this week that the bill would have made New Mexico one of the world’s attractive filming destination, and would have been a “game-changer” for the industry.
— This article appeared on page A03 of the Albuquerque Journal