October 24, 2014

Culver: end state film tax credit program

Governor Chet Culver says once the existing state commitments are met, the state tax credit program for film and TV productions in Iowa should be shut down.

“We’re not going to be taken for suckers,” Culver told reporters late this morning during a statehouse news conference. “People, unfortunately, exploited that program.”

Culver ordered the program suspended nearly a year ago when problems were publicly disclosed. Last week, the Iowa Department of Economic Development issued state tax credits to two Iowa-based productions that had received initial approval from state officials before Culver suspended the program in mid-September of 2009. 

A handful of state officials connected to the film office have been fired or have resigned and charges have been filed against the former film office manager and against filmmakers who sought tax credits for questionable expenditures. The tax credits were created during former Governor Tom Vilsack’s tenure and this past spring the Iowa legislature voted to suspend the program until July 1st of 2013. Culver today suggested the jobs created by the film and TV productions weren’t the kind of “permanent” jobs Iowa needs.

“Unfortunately, with respect to the film program, people exploited it. They took advantage of it. I’ve had enough of that,” Culver said. “And we need to target our state resources in a way that helps create long-term jobs and we have all sorts of opportunities to do that in the biofuels industry, in the wind energy industry, solar. And that’s where I’m going to make sure we target those investments.” 

The  Iowa Motion Picture Association has said the state tax credits for movie and TV productions in Iowa had a “positive economic impact” on the state and the group has called for the program to continue.