Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Lights! Camera! Curtains?

Legislation, Taxes, Business

It sure was great to see popular Hollywood star Johnny Depp filming “Public Enemies” in Wisconsin during 2008. Production of the movie in various Wisconsin locations was only possible because of a program offering tax breaks as incentives to film makers.

However, it is realistic and prudent to question whether Wisconsin is getting enough box office bang for its buck. Wisconsin is one of many states reconsidering how much money it pumps into luring Hollywood producers to America’s Dairyland to make movies. One of the questions raised during the 2009-11 state budget deliberations was whether Wisconsin’s program that provides tax incentives for filmmakers is effective or too generous. Governor Doyle chopped funding for the program in the 2009-11 budget signed into law. 

The LA Times notes that in the case of “Public Enemies,”  after the tax breaks were dished out that helped offset costs for, among other expenses, Depp’s hair stylist, makeup artist, and two chauffeurs, the net gain was debatable as to its worth. 

Wisconsin’s batch of incentives has now been reduced substantially, leading one to wonder if the state can even compete with 39 others offering tax credits, some that are much greater.

In Iowa, the program has led to a full-blown scandal. 

Wisconsin surely wants to and needs to attract business, including exciting ventures like box office smashes. However, when pink slips are being handed out to workers, it is difficult to justify expensive subsidies of Hollywood stars.

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