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Budget agreement could mean slashing Michigan’s film incentives in half

The Lansing capitol dome with a blue sky behind it and trees in front of it
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Battles over the next state budget are heating up.

Budget talks are wrapping up at the state Capitol. As part of the discussion, lawmakers are looking to cut Michigan’s $50 million film incentive program in half.

Many say the savings should go toward fixing Michigan’s roads.

“There is overwhelming public support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to reprioritize that spending to fix the roads,” Michigan Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Rich Studley told lawmakers last week during a committee hearing on the road funding issue.

“It is appropriate to look at all departments, all programs, all projects, and to ask the question, is this spending essential? Is it effective? Can these funds be spent more wisely?” he said.

Studley says his claim that there is significant support across party lines for the move is based on a poll conducted by the Chamber and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Both organizations lean to the right.

Supporters of the film incentive program say it creates jobs and promotes Michigan’s image around the world. They say the $25 million savings is tiny compared to the $1.2 billion-plus dollars needed annually to fix the roads.

“Cutting the film incentive and programs like that as a way to raise a billion dollars is just not a realistic approach,” said state Rep. Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak).

The Legislature hopes to finalize a state budget in early June.

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