I would like to respond to the weekly Political Horizons commentary in this week’s Sunday Advocate concerning reform in awarding entertainment tax credits. In a earlier posting, I called for the Louisiana Legislature to look at this very subject because even though the Tax Credits is good business for Louisiana, my concern is that the credits are reaching the wrong individuals or for the wrong purpose.
Once again, I will give you a prime example of what I am talking about; Lil Boosie Hatch who was acquitted of 1st degree murder back in May and the record company that Lil Boosie recorded for – Trill Entertainment put out a DVD glorying the Gangsta lifestyle in Baton Rouge.
Just imagine what good if the Tax Credit was expanded to help train professional actors and actresses in government training videos, it would sure save the state lots of money by producing these type of trainings for employees. Lets not destroy the golden goose here but at the same time promote some good ole responsibility.
Political Horizons for Sunday, July 15, 2012
How others see Louisiana
by mark ballard
Capitol news bureau
True, Vernon Bourgeois, the Terrebonne Parish sheriff who stars in the reality show, “Cajun Justice,” is no longer sheriff of the place where, according to A&E Network publicity, “the deeper into the sticky swampland the deputies dive, the stranger and more mysterious the calls become.” Also true is that south of Chauvin, at least these days, are predominantly multi-million dollar camps where the only sign of voodoo is the logo on bags of barbecue.
A rough count of cable television listings came up with at least eight programs that purport to show typical Louisiana residents going about their everyday lives: duck callers, pawn shop operators, ghost hunters, custom gunsmiths, exterminators, overnight millionaires, fishermen and, of course, alligator hunters.
Add into that mix, a governor who spends much of his time on television in other states campaigning for Republican candidates and their causes.
That’s an awful lot of exposure for a state with fewer people than some of America’s larger cities. It’s saturation advertising that Louisiana taxpayers subsidize.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne says the multitude of reality shows proves that the rest of the country is interested in Louisiana’s unique lifestyle. Though the state has no extensive statistics, officials at hotels and local visitors’ centers do report an uptick in tourist interest about visiting swamps and other areas off the beaten path, he said.
Dardenne also acknowledges that part of the attraction is the tax credits and incentives.
Reality TV productions have spent around $36 million directly in Louisiana during the past decade, estimated Christopher Stelly, the executive director of the state office that oversees the tax credits.
But reality television accounts for a small fraction of the business since the 2002 inception of the motion picture incentive program, Stelly said. Private companies have spent about $3 billion in Louisiana for all film and television productions during the past decade, he said.
The incentive program recently came under fire from legislators who were critical that a few companies could take advantage of rules that Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera says could allow large private profits, rather than just partial reimbursement of costs, at taxpayers’ expense. Secretary of Economic Development Stephen Moret said those issues have been addressed.
Generally, the incentive program allows producers to receive tax credit certificates for a portion of various expenditures and payroll in Louisiana. Moret said the credits are issued for certain expenses already paid by the producer and those transactions are audited.
For instance, the two companies producing “Billy the Exterminator,” in November 2011, received a tax credit certification of $451,580 based on audited transactions of $3.3 million in Louisiana, according to a state Department of Economic Development letter.
The Terrebonne Sheriff’s Office is paid $1,500 per episode, the Tri-Parish Times and Business News quoted Bourgeois as saying.
On the other side of the equation, how much does it cost Louisiana taxpayers for Jindal to stump America for Republican candidates?
Jindal’s spokeswoman, Shannon Bates, says the governor’s expenses were paid by the GOP causes on whose behalf he campaigned for 20 days during the past 73, and that no state-paid employees, except bodyguards, accompanied him.
Doug Cain, spokesman for State Police Col. Mike Edmonson, won’t say. But Jindal’s bodyguards were paid their regular salary, which ranges from $20.33 to $34.11 per hour, plus overtime, Cain said.
Whatever that cost, Jindal leaves America pondering pearls of Louisiana wisdom, though perhaps not as memorable as Troy Landry’s “Choot ’Em.”
One of the more memorable was Jindal’s cheap shot at the physicists who made history discovering a Higgs boson. The Higgs is a subatomic particle that gives other particles mass and thereby, creates structure to build the universe.
The long search, abandoned in America when funding was stripped by budget cutters, continued in Europe as, according to Jindal, “a questionable throw of the dice by the same folks who gave us the euro.”
Mark Ballard is editor of The Advocate Capitol news bureau. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.