Lt. Governor Lawton Urges Action on Film Industry Incentives

Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton submitted the following written testimony to the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Family Prosperity and Housing regarding Senate Bill 24, which would move the effective date of tax incentives for the film industry from January 1, 2008 to January 1, 2007:


“I have been privileged to join a bipartisan coalition of legislators and private sector advocates who worked together over the past three years to craft and enact incentives that will, without a doubt, help Wisconsin claim our share of the $50 billion spent annually in the film and video production industry. The incentives will put Wisconsin on firm competitive footing to attract film and video production – and the hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars those industries represent – to our state.


“The incentives prove to be more attractive than even we anticipated. As a result, several major film projects are already circling like airplanes wanting to land here, ready to begin shooting in Wisconsin, ready to hire crew and start spending money here. But they won’t until those incentives are effective. Until then, they will set up shop in Winnipeg, Louisiana, South Carolina, or another state where incentives are already in place.  This is the reality of the film industry: this kind of incentive is foreign to our experience with other sectors, but it is the reality in this case.  Without those incentives in place, we will never bring this very active and growing industry to Wisconsin.


“I know that Wisconsin’s incentives are due to take effect in a little less than one year. You may ask, what’s one more year? To put it simply, one more year means tens of millions of dollars. Since the time Governor Doyle signed the original bill last May, we have already missed out on $78 million worth of film and television projects that producers wanted to film here. Another $10 million film, set in Wisconsin and based on the life of a Wisconsin native, is set to start shooting in Canada – if we don’t move the effective date of the incentives. We have received inquiries about our incentives on projects collectively worth between $50 and $75 million in just the last six weeks. Those projects will not wait a year to begin production; we should not wait a year to welcome them.


“Quite simply, the longer we wait, the more we lose.


“The film incentives were crafted and passed in a bipartisan spirit of cooperation to spur Wisconsin forward and enrich our economy and opportunities in this growing sector. I respectfully ask that we capitalize on the vision that drove this bill forward to secure Wisconsin’s lead in the competitive landscape of this exciting, lucrative and green industry.”