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LA Welfare-Dependent Film Industry

'Ender's Game' filmed on a Baton Rouge soundstage, which is now empty from lack of business (Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com)

The state of Georgia has built a significant film industry by giving Hollywood studios generous subsidies in the form of tax credits — a program that costs Georgia taxpayers $1 billion a year.  But Georgia governor Nathan Deal earlier this year said he would not seek to repeal the tax credits, claiming that they were an overall economic winner for the state, because they made a lot more money for Georgia than they cost the taxpayer. Does anybody know if that is true?

In any case, threats by Disney and Marvel to pull film production out of Georgia if Deal signed the religious liberty law no doubt influenced the governor to veto the bill.

Here in Louisiana, we had the same thing Georgia has. Film and television production boomed after the state subsidized the industry with tax credits. But the program cost the state far more money than it brought in, according to state budget analysts, but everybody liked the Hollywood glamour, so the program went untouched — until Louisiana got its back against the wall. In the face of the state’s mounting fiscal crisis, legislators scaled back the program. What happened when Hollywood could no longer get corporate welfare from taxpayers?

It collapsed.

Now, maybe Georgia has a different experience with its program. Maybe it’s structured differently, and really does earn more money than it costs taxpayers. But given Louisiana’s bad experience, has any disinterested party in Georgia looked at the books to see? Or did the governor of Georgia just let a corporate welfare client tell his state how to run its social policy?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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