Film incentives up for discussion in Colorado budget

$3 million could be available as part of budget

DENVER -- From "Top Chef" to the movie "Our Souls at Night" on Netflix, Colorado's mountains are serving as a Hollywood backdrop.

"In the hundred some odd years of the film industry, over 300 movies were made here," said Colorado film commissioner Donald Zuckerman.

Over the last four years, the state has paid just under $13 million in incentives to lure productions to Colorado. Those investments have brought in about $165 million in economic activity, an arrangement the state's film commissioner wants to continue.

"We hope the legislature will realize that the money we are hoping to get is not a large amount of money compared to the shortfall and that we have a significant return on investment on that expenditure,” said Zuckerman. 

Yet this is a one-story line some lawmakers think needs to be rewritten.

"We're picking one winner over other winners or losers, and that's not the role of government," said Republican representative Justin Everett of Jefferson County. "Why are we (putting) film over something noble, like education or something like that? Incentivizing teachers to come here with a tax rebate, that you might get for being a good teacher."

In the end, the Colorado Office of Economic Development feels if incentives are cut, the curtain will come down on Colorado.

"If somebody wants beautiful mountains they have them in Utah with a 25 percent incentive, they have them in Northern New Mexico with a 25 percent incentive or they can go to Alberta where the incentives are extreme," said Zuckerman.

The program has the support of Governor Hickenlooper.  

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