The 2023 legislative cycle ends in a few weeks, but there’s still debate about an issue Montana residents should watch closely: movie tax credit bills.
With bipartisan passage of the original bill in 2019, Montana’s film industry has seen growth — in both tourism and job creation. According to a recent UM study, the Media Act of 2019 created 10,000 new direct and indirect jobs, and all revenue combined returned nearly $40 million to the state’s general fund. This is meaningful economic growth.
In this legislative session, three bills related to the film tax credit were introduced. The three promised to hire Montana veterans and Native Americans as a condition of obtaining tax breaks. Killed two of these bills. Fortunately, Sen. Greg Hertz has the last bill alive in this session.
We had the opportunity to expand the film industry tax credit. Raising the tax credit ceiling would have allowed that. The current legislation has a proposed cap of $30 million, and while this would allow current production to remain at the MT, it would delay what we need – clean economic growth and most importantly, continued job growth for our youth.
Without raising this tax credit ceiling, no meaningful expansion can take place. Plans for a recent off-billing photo facility will be deferred. You will miss out on the opportunity for industry training and cash injections at universities and vocational schools. The same facility as proposed would have employed 2,000 Montagne residents across the state. Without raising the tax credit ceiling, these jobs will not be created.
Career and economic growth is important to every Montan and our quality of life. It was a promised priority in the 2023 legislative session; So why Montana’s leaders didn’t invest more in growth and jobs with the record surplus that we had available is a little bit baffling to our veteran communities and business leaders.
Montans face a unique opportunity: to grow in an industry that will provide well-paying jobs, housing, and much-needed infrastructure for our cities. We can seize this opportunity and harness it to create a job market in this situation that gives our youth the chance to stay in the place they know and love. Are we going to seize this opportunity or have we missed the ball?