Opponents call it 'welfare for Hollywood millionaires,' while supporters say it is a badly needed way to boost jobs and improve the state's image. Debate begins this week on a bill which would drastically scale back the taxpayer incentives that Texas could offer to convince Hollywood producers to make movies, TV shows, and video games in the state, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The measure would limit to $10 million the total amount that the state could grant in incentives and rebates to producers to film in the state. By contrast,, neighboring Louisiana can offer $180 million in incentives.
Mindy Raymond of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance says other states offer incentives, because they work.
"Across the state, I have received hundreds of written testimony from people in support of our program, and what it does for them, and how it helps small businesses," she said.
Raymond says the sponsors of the bill underestimate the financial impact that the entertainment industry has on the state's image, and economy.
"We're having people write letters to their legislatures to make sure they know how important this rebate program is in Texas," she said.
Not only would the bill drastically reduce the taxpayers funded incentives available to attract motion picture production to the state, is also imposes major restrictions on the productions that would be eligible.
A movie could not be rated 'P-G 17' or 'R' and it could not be considered 'obscene' to receive an incentive. 70% of the production crew, actors, and extras must be from Texas, and 60% of the production must take place in the state. The producers must also spend at least 120 days working in Texas.
Supporters of the effort to reduce incentives say at a time when schools are underfunded and law enforcement is struggling, it makes no sense to pay what one supporter called 'welfare for Tom Cruise.' The left wing bent of most of Hollywood, even though the sponsors won't say it, probably enters into the state's Republican lawmakers' attempt to cut back on taxpayer subsidies.
Texas is no stranger to being tight fisted when it comes to Hollywood. Much of the 1950s Rock Hudson saga 'Giant,' which is an iconic story of the Texas oil and cattle industries, was actually filmed in Arizona.