Tax break debate over film industry

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – As filming for “The Stand-In” wraps up in downtown Lexington, director Jamie Babbit says she enjoyed her time here, but there was something keeping the crew from staying longer.

“It is so wonderful to shoot here in so many ways, the only thing I wish you guys had was a tax credit, just like Georgia. Then we would have shot the whole movie here instead of two days here,” says Babbit.

Jayne Hancock, CEO of the Lexington based production company Wrigley Media Group, told WTVQ before filming began, this isn’t the first time Kentucky has lost film opportunities to other states.

“Ones that we’ve recruited and brought and shown and how it felt it was unfortunate that they couldn’t come here because another state was providing them an incentive,” says Hancock.

According to the Kentucky Film Association, 23 movies were shot in the Bluegrass in 2016 and 2017, resulting in a $47 million economic impact on local businesses, and $4.7 million in tax revenue to local government.

Jason Bailey with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says those benefits aren’t worth what the Commonwealth is giving away.

“The cost ballooned out of control in 2018. We gave away $500 million as a state in film tax breaks. That’s about seven times more than we spend on preschool for all of Kentucky,” says Bailey.

The Commonwealth put a halt on taking tax incentive applications in February of 2018. Bailey says movie making doesn’t benefit Kentucky workers much anyway.

“A lot of the jobs in film making, the high paying jobs, the skilled jobs are out of state, they come for as long as production happens and then they leave and they go back. The only jobs in the state tend to be part time and low wage,” says Bailey.

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