Production companies are being challenged to prove state film tax credits actually stimulate the local economy.

Production companies are being challenged to prove state film tax credits actually stimulate the local economy. (Los Angeles Times / September 6, 2012)

As Gov. Jerry Brown mulls whether to sign into law another round of subsidies for local production companies, the question that confronts him is how much each job on a movie set is worth to taxpayers.

In Massachusetts, lawmakers recently discovered a similar program was much more expensive than they thought. After years of subsidizing film productions without looking too closely at how that was helping the economy, state officials put it under a lens and found that taxpayers were spending as much as $300,000 to bankroll each position.

Other states that went in for a close-up after dispensing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks found that every public dollar put into the film industry was generating a few dimes, or less, in revenue.

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