The Minnesota Film and TV Board may be in the uncomfortable position of reneging on tax-break commitments. The feature film "The Convincer," starring Greg Kinnear, has nearly finished shooting in Minnesota and will soon apply for a rebate intended to lure producers to the state. However, Gov. Tim Pawlenty's supplemental budget proposal would cut the Snowbate allocation to $525,000 from $1.25 million in 2010 and eliminate it in 2011. Pawlenty also has proposed zeroing out the board's $325,000 administrative budget by the end of June.
"We have 21 Snowbate participating companies right now and we've informed all of them that until we know what the budget is going to be, nothing is guaranteed," said Lucinda Winter, film board executive director. "If you renege on a commitment on which they made a decision to come here and shoot, then you're kind of smoked for the next time."
House and Senate budget committees have passed bills that cut the Film Board and Snowbate by 6 to 10 percent. Those measures are in conference committee, but Winter worries the governor will line-item veto any provision that doesn't radically cut the board.
Brian McClung, Pawlenty's spokesman, said, "With the state facing a nearly $1 billion deficit, providing taxpayer dollars to attract films and television shows is a lesser priority than things like K-12 education and public safety."
The Snowbate program reimburses film companies for 15 to 20 percent of their production expenses in Minnesota. According to the board, Snowbate has used $2.9 million in state funds since 2007 to create the equivalent of 349 full-time jobs and approximately $30 million in direct and indirect spending in the state.