Questioning the priorities
It was a quick death but a significant one nonetheless.
On Wednesday, the North Carolina House Finance Committee voted down a measure that would extend the state’s film incentive program to 2017.
The bill would have kept the incentive program in place — as it is set to expire at the end of this year — but it would be in a reduced capacity.
Production companies could claim the incentive on 22.5 percent of its expenses with a per-project payout cap set at $15 million.
The plan that sunsets on Dec. 31, 2014 allows a 25 percent rebate on expenses and a $20 million cap.
What the new plan would have ensured is continuing to attract film projects — and more importantly — film jobs to North Carolina.
Rutherford County has been the beneficiary of film projects with such movies as The Last of the Mohicans and Dirty Dancing filmed here.
The state has had a wider attraction as one of the Iron Man series was filmed in Wilmington along with other films such as the first Hunger Games film.
These would not have been possible without the assistance of the film incentive program.
In an interview with the Lumina News — a weekly newspaper based in Wilmington — Rep. Susi Hamilton, R-Brunswick/New Hanover, said committee chairman Rep. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover, was “given the green light to run” the amendment during the committee meeting Wednesday morning. However, it was House Speaker Thom Tillis’ office that worked against the amendment, causing it to fail.
“Anything can happen at this point but this morning Ted Davis was double-crossed by the speaker’s office,” Hamilton said in the interview.
The significance of the killing of the bill is the North Carolina General Assembly has tirelessly professed to residents the priority it puts on creating and sustaining new jobs across the state.
Some legislators suggest the film incentives give away too much to production companies but, with a cap and a set percentage, it can be concluded that most films that would be filmed in North Carolina would spend considerably more in the state than what would be given back.
So, the argument of giving away the farm simply doesn’t hold water.
There is a proposal in the Senate that turns the film incentives program into grants but there is no guarantee it will even see the light of day during this short session.
“They are ready to do offshore drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and they are unwilling to support 4,200 existing clean North Carolina jobs,” Hamilton said.
Perhaps the priorities of our state lawmakers need to be examined because that simply doesn’t make sense.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark