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Liberal think tank and Hollywood's lobbying arm trade barbs over state film subsidies

November 17, 2010 |  6:57 pm

Hollywood may be known for its liberal politics, but that doesn't mean it will get a pass from one prominent liberal think tank.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington public policy organization that focuses on federal and state fiscal issues, is no fan of industry tax breaks, least of all those handed to Hollywood. On Wednesday the organization released a stinging, 13-page report titled "State Film Subsidies: Not Much Bang for Too Many Bucks," that concludes state film tax subsidies are not worth the cost.

"While subsidies may attract film production to a state, they create few good local jobs and they don't come close to paying for themselves,'' said Senior Fellow Robert Tannenwald, author of the report. "They also use up money that states could otherwise spend on proven long-term investments, like education and infrastructure."

Needless to say, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, Hollywood's lobbying arm, didn't take kindly to the think tank's take on film incentive programs that play a pivotal role in determining where films and TV shows are shot.

"This politically motivated, slipshod report by a think tank in Washington, D.C., demonstrates no understanding of the film and television industry, nor the importance of jobs and economic development produced by these tax credits in states all across our nation,'' said Vans Stevenson, the MPAA's senior vice president of state government affairs. "The film and television incentive programs can do wonders and are an economic stimulus. New investment in film and digital media production is, on balance, revenue positive."

-- Richard Verrier