Friday, March 15, 2013

Bad Break for Breaking Bad Bill

The "Breaking Bad" bill got a bad break Friday, as Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the measure, which would have encouraged more television series productions in the state.

House Bill 379, sponsored by Rep. Moe Maestas, breezed through the Legislature with little dissent. It passed the House unanimously and was approved by The Senate by a vote of 32 to 8.

Martinez, in her veto message, said because it wasn't part of a "comprehensive tax reform package." Said the governor, "Unfortunately, as of the time I am required to take action on this bill, the legislature has chosen to only pass a package to increase subsidies to Hollywood, while failing to pass reforms designed to diversify our economy and help New Mexico businesses grow.

“I cannot in good conscience further expand New Mexico’s film subsidy while leaving other sectors in our economy unassisted and genuine reform unattained," Martinez said." I again reiterate my willingness to meet legislators halfway and will support an increased film incentive as part of a broader reform package that I hope the legislature will pass before adjournment."

Supporters argued that it's desirable for the state to host series like the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight — both of which were shot in New Mexico — and Longmire, which is about to begin shooting its second season in Santa Fe and other New Mexico locales.

"TV series that are successful stay around for several years. Movies come and go." Maestas said in an interview early in the session. Longer series mean more job security for New Mexico crews, he said.

Under current law, the state's film incentive program offers a 25 percent rebate to film companies for most in-state expenditures. Maestas' bill would have increased the rebate to 30 percent for a television series that shot at least six episodes in a single season in the state or spent at least $500,000 on constructing sets.
Wendy's bummed

Despite Martinez's statement that the bill represented "increased subsidies to Hollywood," the $50 million cap per year on film production rebate payouts wouldn't have been affect by the bill.

HB 379 also would have allowed the state to carry forward unused film tax credit production funds from previous years, if the state spent less than the current $50 million annual cap. For example, if the state spent only $40 million on the rebates one year, the next year the cap would go up to $60 million.

The governor's entire veto message is HERE