Tax incentives given to the film industry don’t actually benefit states’ economies, according to a study released by a USC professor over the summer. Michael Thom, an assistant professor in the USC Price School of Public Policy, served as the lead author of the study. His findings showed that tax incentives have resulted in little to no economic growth for states, yet these states continue to invest in the film industry. Initially, states used tax breaks for film companies as a way to address the issue of the growing unemployment and to boost individual state’s economies. Despite the efforts, which include offering waivers on sales taxes, tax credits and rebates to film producers, states are losing millions of dollars every year. “We looked at job growth, wage growth, states’ share of the motion picture industry and the industry’s output in each state.” Thom said in a statement. “On average, the only benefits were short-term wage gains, mostly to people who already work in the industry. Job growth was almost nonexistent. Market share and industry output didn’t budge.” The failure of tax incentives to solve these problems has raised questions of how this will affect film students and filmmakers in the state of California. Thom believes that the film students in California have not been affected by film credits. “USC’s film school built its reputation without tax subsidies,” Thom said. “Students are attracted to our film school because of the school’s prestige and proximity to the industry. California’s tax subsidies specifically exclude student films, as well as other student-friendly projects.” Thom’s suggestions for California-based film students were less about the industry, and more about the cost of living in an expensive state.“Students that want to stay in California should worry more about taxes, the cost of housing, regulatory burdens, and labor costs,” Thom said. “All of [these] are much higher here than almost every other state.”The study indicated that a total of 36 states have continued to give the film industry tax incentives, with New York coming in as the biggest investor. New York University, which has one of the highest-ranked film schools in the nation, also continues to see high application numbers.The biggest investors other than New York and California include Louisiana, Connecticut and Georgia, and despite the lack of economic impact tax breaks provide, film students and filmmakers continue to flock to these states. The prestige and proximity to the movie industry, according to Thom, act as more important factors in the decision-making process than the potentially undesirable economic consequences.“After a state has invested tens of millions of dollars, no politician wants to acknowledge that the program is a waste of taxpayer money,” Thom said.
Facebook0Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Thurston Regional Planning CouncilFour years ago, the Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) kicked off its landmark Sustainable Thurston project with a simple question: How do you want your community to look, feel and function in 2035?Residents from around the region spoke up and helped craft Creating Places—Preserving Spaces: A Sustainable Development Plan for the Thurston Region, which integrates sustainability principles into decision-making to achieve a healthy environment, robust economy, and thriving society. Now, as local planners and policymakers begin to implement the ambitious sustainability plan, folks from beyond the region are taking notice.On March 17, Futurewise — formerly 1000 Friends of Washington — will honor Sustainable Thurston, TRPC and its partners with the 2015 Local Government Excellence award. The Seattle-based nonprofit’s award recognizes policy or planning initiatives and programs that support the principles of smart growth.“This award is another confirmation of the great and innovative work the region’s policymakers undertook,” said TRPC Executive Director Lon Wyrick. “The thousands of hours of staff work and citizen involvement paid off in the development of a detailed vision of how we all want our region to grow.”The Sustainable Thurston project has garnered recognition from several other organizations, including the: Planning Association of Washington/American Planning Association—Washington Chapter (2014 Planning Award, Sustainability Category; State of Washington (2014 Governor’s Smart Vision Award); Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (2013 Honorable Mention, Outstanding Achievement).TRPC — Thurston County’s metropolitan planning organization — developed the comprehensive, long-range plan over three years and adopted it in December 2013. TRPC convened an unprecedented partnership of local policymakers, business and nonprofit leaders, and ordinary residents who engaged in a frank conversation and deep analysis of a wide range of topics, including: transportation, housing, land use, economic development, food systems, water, energy, solid waste, air quality, social equity, and climate change. TRPC planners developed data-based scenarios that showed what our fast-growing region would lose during the next quarter-century under business-as-usual patterns — chiefly, sending 13 percent of residential growth to rural areas, resulting in longer commutes, greater carbon emissions and fewer forests, farms and prairies. To curb sprawl, reinvigorate our communities, and protect our natural capital, project participants articulated a bold sustainability vision for 2035, prioritized actions, and assigned roles and responsibilities. For more information about the plan, visit www.trpc.org.