Good News from the Legislature for Texas-based filmmakers and game developers: The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program is getting a massive financial boost, tripling the amount of money available over the next two years to $95 million. The program's fairy godmother, Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin says filmmakers and game developers have hotel owners to thank.
The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (TMIIIP) is designed to keep texas competitive with other film-producing states that offer incentives, but it was always limited by small cash reserves. Two years ago, lawmakers slashed the funds available to $32 million. When they passed the state's new biennial budget over the weekend, the investment in the incentives had soared to a new high. Dukes explained that the negoatiations had been complex. When the house first started running the numbers, she only proposed $22 million for 2014-15, saying she took "a conservative approach because we knew there were so many conservatives." However, the Senate was considering not simply restoring the fund to pre-cut 2009 levels, but actually raising it slightly to $70 million. When the two chambers finished negotiations, there was a total of $95 million in the kitty. Dukes credited the Texas Motion Picture Association and her fellow lawmakers for understanding the program's value, but said the key was the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association, which lobbied lawmakers to allocate the $68 million generated by the Hotel Occupancy Tax. Dukes said "Having film production in Texas created heads in beds, and therefore they felt that it was in their best interest to put up a small percentage of the tax."