Each year, the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program receives $32 million in state funding, which it in turn uses to lure productions to the Lone Star State. There are some requirements, not the least of which is that 70 percent of each production’s cast, crew, and extras are Texas residents. It’t still a good deal for the state: it provides jobs for its residents, it showcases the state to worldwide audiences, and it brings in money. According to the Austin Business Journal, the program has doled out $94 million so far, money that’s been turned into $744 million in direct spending in the state.
TMIIIP is asking for an increase in its budget, from $32 to $35 million. Not happening, at least according to the latest state budget projections. The latest projection calls for just $4.2 million, and that fund will be split between the Texas Film Commission and the Texas Music Office. State reps claim they can’t ascertain whether or not the money is the driving force, or other factors.
“A show like Dallas would not have come without our incentives,” Texas Film Commission head Heather Page told the ABJ.
And that’s hard to argue. The show qualified for a $2.1 million state grant, and received another $200,000 a year from the city of Dallas, renewable for six years. For that, the show has contributed $20 million to the local economy, and reenergized the Dallas (and Dallas) brand. If the state grants dry up, though, what’s to keep the show around? It’s shot all of its b-roll, and could quickly find a soundstage anywhere in California. Or – in the state’s worst nightmare – it could move production to Louisiana or New Mexico, states that value their film commissions.