NM: Breaking Bad Bill Goes To Governor

A bill boosting incentives for TV series that shoot in New Mexico is headed to the governor’s desk, but it’s still unclear if she will sign it.

The House voted to concur with Senate amendments to HB 379, which would boost the existing 25 percent rebate on qualified expenditures for film and television productions to 30 percent on New Mexico crew for TV series shooting at least six episodes in the state with a budget of at least $50,000 per episode.

The bill, also called the “Breaking Bad” bill for the long-running series set and filmed in Albuquerque, also allows up to $10 million in unused credits to be carried over to the following year if the number of credits paid out does not reach the $50 million annual cap. And it would allow productions to assign their anticipated tax credits to a bank or other financing entity, thus allowing them to get upfront financing.

“I thank both chambers of the New Mexico Legislature for working so diligently across party lines to send this critical jobs bill, the Breaking Bad Bill, to the Governor,” said House Majority Whip and bill sponsor Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, in a prepared statement.

“New Mexicans need jobs, good paying jobs, and this legislation will boost our economy sending a strong message to the film and TV industry, so I urge Governor Martinez to act swiftly and sign this bill into law that will welcome back the film industry to New Mexico,” Maestas added.

The bill also extends the 30 percent credit on New Mexico crew to productions that use studio facilities for a certain number of days, based on their budgets. It specifies that productions shall make “reasonable efforts” to contract with vendors that have a physical presence in the state. And it allows for some non-resident crew expenses to be rebated, but only if a production makes reasonable efforts to hire resident crew and it makes financial or in-kind contributions toward workforce development or education programs.

Gov. Susana Martinez now has 72 hours to either sign or veto the bill. It’s not clear which way she will go, although there have been a number of meetings among supporters, legislators and the Fourth Floor (common legislative slang for the governor’s office) to tweak this bill and an identical bill in the Senate. But apparently the governor wants to see other economic development initiatives pass as well.

“With federal budget cuts disproportionately hurting New Mexico, we are in dire need of enacting tax reforms to make our state more competitive to improve economic development,” said Enrique Knell, spokesman for Martinez, in an email. “Governor Martinez has expressed a willingness to consider a film bill, but it can’t be in isolation and must be part of a larger, more comprehensive package that levels the playing field to help create more jobs in New Mexico.”

Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Texico, said during the floor debate on HB 379 concurrence that there is an effort to create a comprehensive tax reform package for New Mexico businesses and the film tax credit “continues to leverage our tax dollars for out-of-state businesses, albeit they are bringing some work here and putting some new Mexicans to work, but temporarily. So it’s a delicate balance we’ve gotta face.”

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