Posted: March 11, 2015
By Teamster General President James P. Hoffa
Published in the Detroit News, March 11, 2015
Lawmakers on the campaign trial in Michigan have rightfully stressed the need for jobs in recent years. They say it is a top priority. But once within the cozy confines of the Statehouse in Lansing, too many seem to lose sight of the issue or its importance to their constituents.
Case in point – a House committee’s decision last week to back legislation that ends some $50 million in annual tax credits to encourage films and television shows to shoot in the Great Lakes state. Tea Party conservatives say Michigan can no longer afford the program, even though the industry employs some 800 Teamsters and many others here.
This state has become a major hub for such projects. Blockbuster films such as the upcoming “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” starring Ben Affleck as well as a bevy of television series have already set up shop here. While the incentives have cost the state $425 million since they were created in 2008, they’ve generated $1.3 billion in spending by producers in Michigan, ranging from salaries to services, according the state’s film office.
Those benefitting are not just those with Hollywood ties, however. It’s Michigan truck drivers, carpenters, electricians, and sound and lighting technicians as well. Those in the hotel and hospitality industries also gain from the additional business. But that could all go by the wayside if the tax credit program is terminated.