Proposed legislation would revive expired film incentives

The filming of 'Get on Up' (Source: The Natchez Democrat)
The filming of 'Get on Up' (Source: The Natchez Democrat)
Updated: Mar. 13, 2019 at 8:10 PM CDT
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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - There’s not the same movie magic in Mississippi’s backyard that there has been in recent years.

“People are calling me saying, ‘Why can’t we have some more movies?’” explained Sen. Lydia Chassanoil.

The answer is that Mississippi allowed the tax rebates for the out-of-state productions to expire in 2017. This 2015 PEER report revealed a lower return on investment than what some lawmakers were comfortable supporting.

“They only looked at the only raw dollar amount and they showed that there was about 49 or 50 cent return on every dollar we were spending,” said Sen. Joey Fillingane.

But some in the movie business are telling lawmakers that they threw in the towel too soon.

“Certain industries take time to mature and grow, so obviously there may be some up front investments that have to be made by the state and they pay back over a longer period of time,” Fillingane continued.

The report showed the steady uptick of productions while the rebates were in place. Senate Tourism Chair Lydia Chassanoil says she saw the impacts in her community during filming.

“I think it has a lot of positive intangibles like the publicity and the fact that a lot of industries were involved with building supplies, restaurants... all of these places that you wouldn’t think of as being part of the film industry, but really benefited from having the movies made in Mississippi,” noted Chassanoil.

Still, the data has some lawmakers pushing back on bringing the film incentive rebates reinstated.

“All the reports look like we’re losing money on this," said Rep. Dana Criswell. "It makes it even worse. It makes this a pretty easy one to vote against. Not only philosophically do I disagree with it but it’s just bad policy and a bad place to put our money.”

Senate Bill 2603 has passed both chambers but will likely go to conference to work out a compromise on the specifics. Either way, many are rooting for the return of movie magic.

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