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Modest proposal to end LA film tax credit waste

Here’s the solution to ameliorating the damage from Louisiana’s porous Motion Picture Investors Tax Credit – defeat Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards for reelection next year.

It’s not that Edwards has proved an impediment to reforming the giveaway, which returns about a quarter of every dollar subsidizing filmmakers, many of whom come from out of state. He might well be, given his past support of the corporate welfare that he reiterated recently in a jaunt to Hollywood. But lawmakers haven’t ever challenged him to do so, only instituting tepid reforms last year.

Instead, it would be the act of keeping him from retaining office. That’s the model that nearly worked in Georgia. Over the weekend a number of Hollywood’s dimmest bulbs called for an industry boycott of the state, since it declared former Republican Sec. of State Brian Kemp the winner over Democrat lawmaker Stacey Abrams for governor.

These skulls full of mush, without any evidence, considered that election result rigged. Thus, they demanded that studios abjure from tapping into Georgia’s lucrative film and television incentives, perhaps the only ones more generous than Louisiana’s. However, Abrams threw cold water on the idea.

Yet this provides the ideal playbook to stop the bleeding in Louisiana’s case. Having Edwards lose would be the easy part, especially if GOP Sen. John Kennedy declares his candidacy as expected next week. It’s making him lose in a way that would rankle the Tinseltown simpletons.

Fortunately, Edwards himself provided a guide to igniting suspicions when he touched off a controversy with interim Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin. The Republican made remarks about how the Edwards Administration needed better communication to prevent felons from voting against the law. Edwards countered by claiming the felon in question who did under existing law had that right, and questioned Ardoin’s competence.

It takes little to rile Edwards, so perhaps throughout 2019 Ardoin could keep up an attack along the lines of voting integrity. Thus, in eliciting a series of intemperate responses from Edwards, he could create an aura that the left coast nimrods would associate with keeping Edwards supporters from voting. In turn, they would ask for a production boycott in Louisiana over the allegedly fraudulent election results that stemmed from the phantom voter “suppression.”

Then, elites don’t discourage out-of-state moguls from skipping the state. The program’s costs would plummet and the savings could go to far more important priorities than making movies.

All right, this scenario is a pipe dream. But reality pervades in that the film tax credit wastes at least $100 million annually, and Kennedy or whoever should make it an issue. A large portion of the state’s small filmmaking community probably already supports Edwards, so GOP candidates have nothing to lose in pitching an idea of making the credit much less generous that doesn’t require higher taxes, if not reducing these, to address funding problems.

This position will win more votes than it loses, and a number of legislative candidates also would find out the same. Election of these kinds of folks maybe finally could rein in the state’s biggest boondoggle.

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