For the past two years, the Speaker of the Florida House has consistently blocked all efforts to put the issue of restoring Florida’s decimated motion picture industry on any committee agenda in that chamber. We have as yet no indication of the new Speaker’s stance but do not anticipate any change of heart or position in 2019. We logically surmise, furthermore, that the ideological right will quickly resume its challenge at the first flickering of any new incentives push for film. In the face of all this, coming across an article like “Georgia Speaker Ralston forms group to support entertainment industry” is certainly enough to make any advocate of the Florida film industry howl with despair.
Why is there minimal (if any) conservative opposition to film incentives in the Peach State? Why are tax dollar giveaways okay there and cries of “corporate welfare” not raining down from the perches of leadership at the Capitol in Atlanta? And why is the Speaker of the Georgia House so vocally, vigorously, deliberately supportive of continued and increasing incentives for the entertainment industry in his state?
Along with Florida, over the past few years Texas, Louisiana, and the Carolinas have all felt the keen edge of the sword from groups like Americans for Prosperity. Meanwhile, the impact on Georgia’s economy from incentives-weighted film production has soared to over $60 billion annually – at a cost of many hundreds-of-millions of Georgia resident tax dollars and nary a conservative whimper.
We hear no criticism from the right, ever. On the contrary, repeated ballyhoos of how great this all is pour forth in a steady stream from every corner of the media. Why? Big dollars weigh large among Georgia power brokers, of course, and clearly they seem more than willing to keep things purring along at all costs.
But here in Florida – with jobs lost, businesses shuttered, and hopes so dim – we can only ask: what’s the difference between the two neighboring red states? Same business principles, right? Same free market ideology? So is it just Peach State dollars that keep the lid screwed down tight on Sunshine State leadership? Can this really be all there is to it?