Moments after she said she wouldn’t draw a line in the sand Tuesday, Gov. Susana Martinez did exactly that with a proposed deal reached this weekend involving the New Mexico film production credit.
There’s a move among some lawmakers in the House of Representatives to expand the $45 million limit on what the state could pay in any year to TV and film productions in any single year. That figure was agreed to Saturday by the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
“No,” Martinez said. “What that is going to do is double the cut in education. All I am asking is a 1.5 percent cut in education bureaucracy and almost every district is willing to work with the education department. But if they bring that back up, the $45 million to the $65 million, or $60 million, it’s unacceptable. That means there’s going to be cuts in those areas I’m not willing to cut.”
The legislation with the $45 million limit won bipartisan support at the House’s tax-writing committee and is viewed by some as a pivotal piece of the ongoing state budget discussions, although the local film industry vehemently dislikes it.
The film production tax credit program is at the center of the ongoing budget standoff that has lasted more than a week.
Martinez said negotiations were continuing.
“What’s more important is that there’s still dialogue,” the governor said. “We are encouraged that they’re looking at $25 million reduction (in the film incentive program) so that we don’t have to cut education beond $30 million that is proposed.”
The governor repeated the demands she has made since this year’s 60-day legislative session began in January.
“I’m not going to draw a line in the sand, except for protecting core funding that’s in the classroom and making sure we have health care and making sure we are not opening prison doors,” the governor said.
Martinez and her administration has criticized the state budget proposal in the House as cutting too deeply into K-12 education, corrections and Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for the low-income. Her desire to wring $25 million from the film industry would boost funding in those three areas.
Film industry advocates, however, have said that any significant change to the film production tax credit program would make New Mexico less competitive and, ultimately, it would lose TV and film productions to other states.