Governor-elect Terry Branstad says he plans to end a program that had extended state tax breaks for movie and television productions filmed in Iowa.
The tax credit program was suspended over a year ago when questionable spending came to light. Criminal charges have been filed against the former manager of the film office as well as a couple of movie-makers.
“We did create the film office back when I was governor before and we had success, significant success without the tax incentives,” Branstad says. “We had ‘Field of Dreams’, ‘Bridges of Madison County’, ‘Miles from Home’ and many other successful films, so I don’t think we should rule out the possibility of film-making in Iowa, but I think we need to make sure that whatever we do is cost-effective and the taxpayers’ interests are always protected.”
The state film office has been part of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Once Branstad takes over as governor, he may move the film office to the Department of Cultural Affairs.
“We are evaluating what to do with that and whether that should be in a different agency or where it should be, but no final decision has been made with regard to the film office,” Branstad says. “We certainly do not intend to get back into the tax credit situation there. I think that was a bad idea, badly run and we’re not going to go that direction.”
A state audit released last month found problems with over $25.5 million worth of the tax credits that had been awarded. Claims lacked proper documentation to show expenditures qualified for the credit, according to the state auditor.
A Minneapolis filmmaker has pleaded guilty to first-degree theft in connection with the scandal and he’s promised to testify against another filmmaker and against the former manager of the film office during their trials.