Though corporate welfare is popular with some politicians, it’s a practice that taxpayers have been opposing for quite some time. This legislative session, one lawmaker has taken the lead to end one of the most egregious examples.
State Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) has filed legislation to abolish the Texas Music, Film, Television, and Multimedia Office as well as the Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (MIIIP), which subsidizes movies, television programs, commercials, and video games.
“It’s time we end these Hollywood handouts to an industry that, at times, is hostile to America’s founding principles. We should only have to pay once for movies, and that’s at the box office,” said Shaheen.
According to the Texas Film Commission, the MIIIP has awarded over $70 million in subsidies since September of 2008. What exactly have those monies gone to?
While funding has gone to cheesy H-E-B commercials, Academy ads, and other, wasteful, but benign campaigns, it’s also gone to support industries that many Texans wouldn’t support. Disbursed funds flow to Hollywood actors that rail against America and limited government, and often end up as donations to liberal political candidates.
Video games and movies with content containing adult language, sexual content, and political themes are also eligible for funding under the provision and have received them. Though some may say that government shouldn’t be in the position of censoring media that people might object to, we should all agree that it certainly shouldn’t be in the position of subsidizing it.
Content concerns aside, the program isn’t even effective at its intended purpose. While the money does “incentivize” movies to be filmed here, former Comptroller Susan Combs’ report on state incentive programs found that “most jobs created in the Film/TV/Commercials sectors are either temporary, part-time (walk-on) roles, or leave the state upon project completion.”
Simply put, they’re a wasteful and ineffective economic stimulus. Another state reported spending over $88,000 in subsidies for each job “created.” Echoing that report, the Wall Street Journal further concludes that film subsidies have hardly any return on investment for taxpayers. Many states, such as Michigan, are ending the practice altogether.
As conservatives point out, the tax dollars used to subsidize these projects come out of the pockets of hardworking in Texans. Ending these slush funds and returning the money to taxpayers would allow them to decide for themselves how best to spend it without government getting in the way. After all, limited government, not crony capitalism, leads the way to prosperity.
Shaheen’s legislation, which was also filed in the Texas Senate by State Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville), is a further positive step in an ongoing effort to roll back crony capitalism. The campaign has a number of allies and is gaining ground. Grassroots conservatives should keep the pressure on our lawmakers in Austin. After all, they work for us.