Big box office at the Capitol
Here’s hoping the starry eyes of our state legislators won’t prevent them from taking a hard look at the numbers before giving their blessing to a proposal for fat tax breaks to attract movie studios to Hawaii.
Relativity Media and partner Shangri-La have promised to build film studios on O‘ahu and Maui if they get tax incentives that would cost the state an estimated $46.3 million a year. Promoters say it could result in 20 movies a year being filmed in Hawaii.
To sell the idea, they enlisted written testimony from former President Bill Clinton as well as in-person appearances by prominent film stars, and threw a private Valentine’s Day party for lawmakers at a posh hotel.
It’s difficult to evaluate whether it’s a good idea or not based on the information we have, but it’s of concern that the proposal came in late and is sketchy in its details as to the economic benefits Hawai‘i would receive in exchange for the tax credits.
Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh says it’s cost-prohibitive to film in Hawai‘i under the existing tax structure, but we have two TV series currently filming here and a bunch of recent movies.
Legislators in both houses were wise to delay decision-making until they get more information on how much new economic activity we can expect, how many jobs will be created and whether they’ll be quality permanent jobs for local residents or temporary positions that involve a lot of people flying in from the mainland.