Let’s say you have a choice of two invoices. One benefits children and education. The other advantages for foreign film companies whose executives oppose the values adopted by most Oklahomians. Also, the invoice for the benefit of the children generates a return on investment 10 times higher than the other invoice.
Which bill would you support? The answer is obvious. But Oklahoma lawmakers could be on the verge of passing the second bill while sidelining the student-friendly measure.
This year, lawmakers have the opportunity to increase the size of the state’s tax credit scholarship program, which has helped many low-income students escape bad public schools for great schools. private. Independent analysis has shown that the program saves state funding.
Yet, so far, lawmakers have not approved the expansion of the scholarship program.
But they seem poised to increase an $ 8 million cinema subsidy program today to at least $ 20 million, and maybe even $ 50 million, per year. It’s a program that has enriched people like disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and done little to spur economic growth.
When the scholarship program produces a return of $ 1.39 for every dollar in tax credits given, the film subsidy program produces only 13 cents. The financial benefit of the scholarship program is 10 times greater than that of the film program.
Yet House lawmakers ignored the reality this week, passing the cinema bill while declaring it would generate $ 17 for every $ 1 in grants. This is 12,976% more than what independent analysis has shown.
Consultants hired by the Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission have previously urged lawmakers to eliminate the film tax credit. A 2016 study by the American Review of Public Administration examined the film incentive programs of 40 states, including the use of transferable tax credits and refundable tax credits, and found neither the ‘neither of the credits “affecting the gross state product or the concentration of the film industry”. A 2019 study from Kennesaw State University found that Georgia spent up to $ 119,000 per full-time equivalent job created by its film grants.
And the film’s credit enriches the individuals and business entities who are literally blocking states passing pro-life or election security laws that most Oklahomans support. The beneficiaries of the film program will literally use Oklahoma dollars to undermine and oppose the preferences of Oklahoma voters.
Oklahoma lawmakers often tout how conservative they are. But if these lawmakers vote to step up the Hollywood bailout while rejecting the choice of school, it will become clear who really is conservative.
Jonathan Small is chairman of the Oklahoma Public Affairs Council (www.ocpathink.org).