Democrats propose lifting film subsidy cap in NM

Democrats will push to lift $50 million annual cap on film production subsidies in New Mexico

Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A fight is brewing between the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez over whether New Mexico should offer more tax subsidies for film production.

House and Senate Democratic legislative leaders said Monday they're working on measures to boost the economy and create jobs. One proposal is to lift a cap on film tax incentives.

New Mexico provides a 25 percent refund on certain expenditures on film and television projects.

The state will hand out no more than $50 million in tax credits each year under a law enacted in 2011, but a proposal by Sen. Phil Griego, a San Jose Democrat, would eliminate the cap.

"We want to send the word out ... to this industry that New Mexico is open and wanting them to come here to film," Griego said Monday at a news conference with Democratic leaders of the House and Senate.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez opposes lifting the cap, according to spokesman Enrique Knell.

However, the administration plans to ask the Legislature to change the law to allow film subsidies that go unused under the yearly limit to be carried over to the next year, potentially providing more than $50 million to be available for film companies in some years.

Knell said the state's 25 percent tax subsidy "remains a highly competitive rate and, coupled with all of the other tremendous advantages that New Mexico has for filmmaking, we're continuing to attract productions to our state."

State officials contend that New Mexico is attractive for television and film production because of its weather, diverse landscape and a strong base of film industry crew members.

The Legislature and GOP governor agreed to the $50 million annual limit after Martinez initially proposed reducing the tax rebate rate to 15 percent.

Both Democrats and Republicans are pushing economic development measures in this year's 60-day session. The governor has proposed lowering the corporate income tax rate and establishing a tax credit for small businesses that create jobs.

Democrats said they're considering measures to encourage technology and energy industry jobs. They also said the construction industry will benefit from capital improvement projects that lawmakers expect to finance this year with more than $200 million in available bond financing.

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Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP

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