Huizenga backs roll back of film incentives

7:32 AM, Mar 29, 2011   |    comments
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Rep. Bill Huizenga

Zeeland, MI (WZZM) - Michigan Congressman Bill Huizenga says "circumstances change" and he's not second guessing plans to roll back the film incentives he helped pass into law three years ago.

"I'm not going to second guess the governor or the legislature on what they are doing," says Congressman Huizenga.

In 2008,  then State Representative Huizenga suggested generous film incentives as a way to diversify Michigan's economy, attract new investment and create jobs.

"A Michigan State University study says it brings money into Michigan," he says. "But the Mackinaw Center says no, it costs. So, there are questions that hang out there."

Shortly after his election last November Michigan governor Rick Snyder called the film incentives "unsustainable."

Under the law, film makers are eligible for up to 42 percent of their expenses in Michigan.  It's cost taxpayers over $300 million since the law took effect in 2008. Governor Snyder wants to cap the incentives at $25 million per year.

"There is an industry here, but it needs to move out of the incentive model at some point," says Governor Snyder.

Because Huizenga says the state never fully engaged the film industry, investors were hesitant to create a movie-making, job-creating infrastructure, at least not in the relatively short time the incentives have been available.

"How do we get studios and get infrastructure put into place?" he asks. "The goal all along has been jobs. Is it producing jobs? Let's keep it, if it is. If not, let's look at ending it and it seems to me, we still have not said 'let's get rid of it entirely'."

Even with his proposed cap, Governor Snyder says the state will pay film makers with already approved projects $100 million in the coming fiscal year and $50 million the next year before settling at the $25 million per year maximum.

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