News Story

Senator Called Film Subsidies 'a Waste,' Now Votes to Continue Them

In June, Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, said he considered Michigan’s film credits to be “a waste” and criticized his GOP primary opponent, Rep. Kevin Daley, R-Lum, for supporting them.

But only weeks after winning his primary election, Sen. Green voted to extend Michigan’s film subsidy program beyond 2017 and eliminate the program’s cap on how many taxpayer dollars could be spent on out-of-state film industry salaries.

"He (Rep. Daley) has voted for the film credits about every time." Sen. Green told Capitol Confidential in June, while making his argument that he (Sen. Green) was more conservative than Rep. Daley. "In my opinion, the film credits are a waste. According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, they haven't created any jobs. I don't think we should be giving a penny toward the film credits.”

In spite of what he had said in June, on Oct. 21 Sen. Green voted for Senate Bill 1103, which – if enacted – would allow the film subsidy program that is currently scheduled to end after 2017 to continue indefinitely. In addition, the measure would do away with a $540,000 salary cap on how much actors, directors and producers could receive from the subsidies. The bill is being considered by the State House.

“The bill makes changes to the current credits,” Sen. Green told Capitol Confidential, explaining his ‘yes’ vote on Senate Bill 1103. “For one thing, we’d get a bigger tax return on them; it would be more lucrative for the state. I also believe this legislation provides better incentives for establishing movie locations in rural areas, like we have throughout most of my district.

“I knew the bill had the votes needed for passage anyway,” Sen. Green continued. “It is not as though I cast the 20th (deciding) vote on this. The bill didn’t appropriate any money and I (as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee) could still have something to say about that. But at least ... this would make the program a little bit better.”

An issue Rep. Daley attacked Sen. Green over in the primary race was that Sen. Green had voted against the right-to-work legislation in December of 2012 after pledging on camera to support a measure if one was ever brought up for a vote.

One of the points Sen. Green made in defense of his switch regarding the right-to-work issue was that he knew the bill would pass regardless of how he voted, which afforded him the opportunity to vote against it without impacting the outcome.

Rep. Daley described the fact that Sen. Green had voted in favor of Senate Bill 1103 after using the film credit issue against him (Rep. Daley) in the primary election as being “a shame.”

“I just think it’s a shame how in politics, within a matter of months, someone could change from using something against their opponent to going all the way over and voting in support of it,” Rep. Daley said. “I know that’s just the way politics go sometimes, but it’s a shame.”

Capitol Confidential asked Rep. Daley how he would vote on the film credit legislation (Senate Bill 1103) if it is brought up in the House during the upcoming lame duck session.

“I haven’t looked at the bill and I don’t know whether it is going to be brought up or not; but based on what I’ve heard about it, I would anticipate voting against it,” Rep. Daley said. “It sounds like it would undo everything we originally intended, which was that these (film credits) would end at a certain point – and, by the way, that was the context of my other votes on this issue’ – the votes over which I was accused of supporting the credits. Those votes were made with the basic understanding that this program was being phased out.”

“I’ve talked with some of my colleagues about being prepared to oppose it, if it is – in fact – brought up for a vote,” Rep. Daley continued. “Again, I don’t even know if the bill will be brought up for a vote or not, but you never know what might happen in lame duck.”

Ron Mindykowski, Sen. Green’s Democratic opponent in the 31st Senate District general election race, did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the federal Bureal of Labor Statistics, Michigan has fewer film jobs than it did in 2008, the year the initial subsidy was passed. The state has appropriated about $500 million since 2008.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.