Early this year Wisconsin’s governor proposed an end to his state’s tax credit program for movie makers. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle cited his state’s experience with the Johnny Depp movie “Public Enemies.”
“Can anybody seriously justify that we should be laying out $4 million for one movie that comes here, that doesn’t produce any long-term jobs in this state, where we end up paying portions of a director’s salary?” Doyle asked in February.
The Wisconsin governor, who is a Democrat, cited a study which found the State of Wisconsin barely broke even on tax benefits after the $4 million in tax credits were given to producers of “Public Enemies,” which was filmed at seven different locations in Wisconsin.
“This thing was just, quite clearly, beyond any reasonable scale,” Doyle said in February.
Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce issued an analysis this past March, warning that Louisiana “just got a bill for $266 million” in tax credits for movie makers, and “that could happen (in Wisconsin)” because their program was “an unlimited liability.” Despite that “warning flag” raised in the state of Wisconsin this past spring, the problems with Iowa’s tax credits for the movie industry were not publicly disclosed until September 18.
The state of Wisconsin has replaced its film tax credit program with incentives to film productions that create “permanent” jobs in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said earlier this year that his state can still play “a role” in movie-making. “But our standard is going to be for people who are producing good, long-term jobs in the state of Wisconsin,” Doyle said.
Iowa’s Attorney General on Monday announced a criminal investigation is underway after an audit found a variety of “questionable” activities in the Iowa Film Office. For example, former Iowa Film Office manager Tom Wheeler issued tax credit certificates to 22 projects, but auditors found invoices for only two of those 22 projects.