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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Fate of film incentives in Gov. Snyder’s hands

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The 50th Ann Arbor Film Festival runs March 27 - April 1, 2012

Michigan’s film incentives could soon end with the stroke of Gov. Rick Snyder’s pen.

The state House and Senate approved a bill to phase out the film credits on the last day before lawmakers go on an intermittent schedule for the summer.

Supporters of House Bill 4122 say the level of economic activity generated by the program doesn’t justify its cost. And they say the film industry has never taken hold in Michigan.

“The whole thing was based on the premise that you have to keep having films because once you get people trained you need the next film to keep them employed. And we just couldn’t pull that off,” said state Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion.

Gov. Snyder signed a state budget just a day earlier that includes $25 million for the credits, compared to $50 million in the previous budget. Most of that money will be spent on retirement obligations tied to a Pontiac movie studio, which is in Marleau’s district.

Opponents of ending the credits say it sends a bad message to businesses.

“They’re looking for stability and the message that we’re putting out there is we’re an unstable place with an erratic legislature,” said state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren.

“It’s been a schizophrenic approach where we had some pretty nice incentives and now we’re just going in the other direction.”

And they say the credits have created many good-paying jobs both within and outside of the film industry.

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