Under the Dome

Rep. Susi Hamilton champions film incentives

Rep. Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover, says that a study scheduled for release next month will provide a detailed accounting of the economic benefits of the film industry in North Carolina, reports the NC Insider.

From the Insider: “The study, being done by N.C. State University economist Rob Handfield, comes as state incentives for the film industry are scheduled to expire next year and as critics and supporters gear up for legislative fight over their expiration.

“With conservative lawmakers pushing back against the incentives, Department of Commerce officials are considering potential changes that might maintain political support while still making them an effective lure. Hamilton, a key legislative supporter of the industry, said existing studies cited by film incentive critics do not capture the full economic benefits of an industry that operates without brick-and-mortar buildings and with a shifting workforce.

“ ‘You have to follow the money all the way through,’she said.

“The study was undertaken after officials in the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory and industry officials and lobbyists began discussing a means of accessing the cost and benefits of the film incentive program.

“Hamilton, on her Facebook page on Tuesday, posted a blistering critique of a John Locke Foundation analysis that questioned film incentives’ constitutionality and effectiveness. In it, she referred to the lowering of the corporate tax rate in the recently-passed tax overhaul bill as ‘much ado about nothing,’ noting that most major corporations in the state pay little or no corporate income tax. Without targeted incentives, film production companies cannot avail themselves of similar tax abatement, she wrote.

“The Locke Foundation piece concluded that states offering film incentives are engaged in ‘a race to the bottom’ and said legislators should allow them to sunset for good.”