Whether it's trolling the depths of Alaska’s oceans for gold or chasing down outlaws along interior highways; the last frontier has become the first choice for reality TV shows, documentaries and movies in recent years.
Some of those filming crews were lured to the state through a tax credit program signed into law by former Governor Sarah Palin in 2008. Representative Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak) wants to end the program and he's filed legislation to do so.
"Tax credits is really almost an erroneous term,” said Stolze. “It's a tax subsidy in a state where the industry doesn't pay anything, it's really the state writing the check, it's really just called a tax subsidy."
According to the Alaska Film Office, $35,101,827 in tax credits were approved through fiscal years 2010 and the first half of fiscal year 2013. $107,717,385 in production expenses were tallied during that same time period. Those expenditures include wages and vendor payments.
"Calling positions full time, on a two week filming gig, creating 2 full time jobs at a cost of $86,000 that's just an anecdotal, I think it's reference to just one project,” adds Stoltze. “I don't think they really stand up well to analysis as a good public policy of a good investment of our state's resources."
Supporters of the film tax credit including Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis, say smaller businesses such as caterers and hotels benefit greatly from the presence of film crews.
"These are investments in diversification of the economy and helping small and medium sized businesses across the state," said Ellis (D-Anchorage).
Ellis says it's business they wouldn't otherwise get if the crews took their projects to another part of the world.
“You have to produce in Alaska to benefit from the tax credit, and Alaskan businesses and individuals have to benefit from the contracts here."
Stoltze says some TV crews were already working in Alaska before the credit program was started, and are doing just fine without it.
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