New Mexico – Albuquerque Senator Tim Keller (D-Bernalillo-17) introduced a film tracking and accountability bill, Senate Bill 44 (SB44) that would make a clear assessment of the impact of New Mexico's Film Production Tax Credit. SB44 would put to rest the ongoing debate about if the film incentives are a strong benefit to the state.
Senator Keller said SB44 requires increased film industry responsibility, transparency and accountability in order to be rewarded with the state tax credit. "With passage of SB44 we'll be able to see actual, not estimated results," Keller said, and to "know for sure exactly how beneficial this program is to our state."
"It's a terrific bill," said the CEO of I-25 Studios in Albuquerque, Rick Clemente, "the people of New Mexico are entitled to know where their money is going." Clemente said keeping accurate, detailed records on what is spent on salaries, building supplies, motel rooms and other costs that qualify for the incentive program will not only make it more transparent but will help a forensic analyst determine how many direct dollars are going into the economy. "Someone who understands analyst tools can break it down and explain how the money ripples through economy and generates tax revenue," said Clemente.
SB 44 also orders the review of the Film Incentive program on a four to five year cycle. Clemente said that would put the film community in a stronger position to look long term rather than worry about losing film incentives every year. Backers, like Clemente, said SB 44 is in step with what film companies can actually report and that our state can track to make sure what we are asking is responsible, doable and fair.
"Make no mistake," said Sen. Keller, "this bill is tough on film, it requires tracking, brick and mortar investment and formal reporting." Sen. Keller said it's irresponsible to talk about abolishing the Film Production Credit or further debate "estimates" and "studies" about film programs. "We need to be careful to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let's get down to the knowable answers and make decisions based on facts going forward," he said.