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Cost Avoidance #5: End Subsidies for Hollywood

September 29, 2017 - 11:09am CDT

#5) End Subsidies for Hollywood: All Oklahomans deserve tax relief, not just those working for movie studios
Are people who make movies better people? And what about companies that film television shows, are they morally superior to your local barber shop, pet store, or family farm? Sure, economic activity is great, but why is one kind of business so much better than the others that Oklahoma should have a policy to subsidize movies and television shows at the expense of other taxpayers?

The reason so many states, including Oklahoma, have these subsidies is simple: Some politicians like to hobnob with even minor celebrities and to take credit if a television show gets filmed nearby. The barber shop is already there. The cattle can’t tell a Senator from anybody else. Movies are flashy and attract attention.

Hollywood has also invested in studies that show that filming is economic activity. It turns out (maybe the Hollywood folks really were surprised) that economic activity is good for the economy. Most people outside of Hollywood intuitively understand this, but they studied it and found it to be true. What the Hollywood cronies miss, however, is that this is not unique to their business.

All Oklahoma businesses, entrepreneurs, and employees deserve a tax code that is as light and uniform as possible. The subsidy for movie and television production is simple cronyism—politicians picking winners and losers (and identifying most Oklahomans as losers)—and should end. Oh, and the benefit of doing the right thing would be to save about $2.67 million for the current budget and more in future years.