Sarah Palin Sets The Media Straight On Alaska’s Film Production Tax Credit

By Gary P Jackson

For Sarah Palin, setting the corrupt media straight is a full time job. The latest lie has to do with tax credits the producers of Sarah Palin’s Alaska received. Sarah issued this statement: [emphasis mine]

Goodness, cleaning up the sloppiness of reporters could be a full time job. In response to The Daily Caller’s online inquiry, I gave them a statement that the writer buried on his story’s second page (which most people won’t even notice – I didn’t even notice it) after he spent the first page completely spinning a situation to give the impression that Alaska’s film production tax credit legislation was somehow solely my idea hatched up to benefit the Palins years before I was ever involved in a documentary series on TLC/Discovery Channel. Here’s setting the record straight: As Governor, I signed into law a popular bipartisan bill that was crafted and passed by others and has resulted in numerous Alaska-based productions that are airing today. The only alternative to signing the legislature’s work product would have been for me to veto their legislation, which would have been useless. Besides all that, their legislation worked.

This bill was not some secret big government agenda. These Alaskan legislators just wanted Alaska to be able to compete with the many other states that offer similar incentives. As I noted in my statement (which was curiously buried by The Daily Caller – whose editor-in-chief was recently called on the carpet for publicly using a degrading term to describe women), I can’t speak for the film tax credit programs in other states, but the program in Alaska has been effective. The bipartisan legislation I signed into law in 2008 was borne out of elected lawmakers’ frustration with the fact that shows and films about Alaska were mostly filmed elsewhere. They wanted to incentivize production companies to film in Alaska instead of Canada, Washington state, or Maine. Their bill worked, and as the legislation’s supporters will testify, the state’s economy enjoys the benefits of having this production money circulating right here at home. It was so successful that state lawmakers now want to renew the film production tax credits for another ten years.

Keep in mind that we don’t have a state income tax, state sales tax, or state property tax in Alaska. Our state government is predominately funded by oil and gas revenue. Essentially we are using revenue generated from the development of Alaska’s natural resources in order to diversify our economy and create jobs beyond just resource development. Not only does this help promote a new film industry in Alaska, it obviously also has the added benefit of encouraging our tourism industry. These shows and films about Alaska act as perfect tourist advertisements for our state. People come here to experience what they see on the shows filmed here. The dramatic increase in Alaska-based television shows and films are testament to the fact that this legislation worked, and it’s exciting to see our state showcased and appreciated. There has been more film productions here than ever before, and the economic benefit of filming here exceeds the tax credit.

And another point missed by this reporter: apparently The Daily Caller’s conspiracy theory must be that I did all of this not even to benefit myself but Mark Burnett Productions. As I tried to explain to the writer at The Daily Caller, if you believe in this bizarre scenario then why not ask the sponsors, drafters, and supporters of this legislation that would boost job creation if they crafted this bill years ago in order to benefit Sarah Palin.

Any suggestion that I somehow did something wrong by signing this legislation is ridiculous. The accusation hinges on the notion that I signed the legislation into law knowing that it would personally benefit me. That’s totally absurd. It wasn’t even my bill, and obviously I had no intention of benefiting from it when I signed it into law in 2008 because I had no idea I would be involved in a documentary series years later. If you’re going to accuse me of benefiting from legislation I signed into law, why stop there?

Go ahead and accuse me of “benefiting” from the legislation my administration actually did craft – like for example, our oil and gas evaluation legislation (ACES).

You could say I “benefited” from it in the sense that due to ACES the state where I live (Alaska) now enjoys a $12 billion surplus. In fact, you could say that as an Alaskan, I benefited from all of the legislation I championed or signed as governor – just as every Alaskan benefited.

As I also tried to tell the reporter, it’s also a false accusation to suggest that signing this bipartisan bill somehow goes against my position on the proper role of government. I’ve said many times that government can play an appropriate role in incentivizing business, creating infrastructure, and leveling the playing field to foster competition so the market picks winners and losers, instead of bureaucrats burdening businesses and picking winners and losers.

Again, I can’t speak for what other states do, but Alaska’s film production tax credit program was an effective way to incentivize a new industry that would diversify our economy. It worked.

The lawmakers’ successful legislation fit Alaska’s economy, as our economy is quite unique from other states’ due to our oil and gas revenue. Perhaps it would behoove people to learn much more about the 49th state’s young economy before making broad accusations about the efficacy of business programs. People who live in ivory towers don’t understand the real world where governors and lawmakers actually have to fight to attract business and jobs to their states.

One final thought: having to set the record straight on my Facebook page yet again is further proof that the media can’t be trusted even to print a statement in a manner that people can read.

- Sarah Palin

You know the detractors of Sarah Palin are getting desperate when this is all they have left to bang her over the head with.

Anyone who watches TLC, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and National Geographic knows the tax credits that were created during Sarah’s time as Governor are working like a charm. You have shows like The Deadliest Catch on Discovery, Ice Road truckers and Axe Men on the History Channel, and Alaska State Troopers on National Geographic, just to name a few. These shows, and others, have brought the magnificent state of Alaska into the world’s living room. No doubt it’s helped the local economies, as production crews spend money, and helped the state’s tourism business.

Before this was done, many shows about Alaska were filmed elsewhere. As Sarah points out, Canada and Washington have been used as stand-ins for Alaska. Most famously, the 1990′s hit television show Northern Exposure, which starred Janine Turner and Rob Morrow. The Golden Globe winning series was set in the fictional town Cicely, Alaska, but was actually filmed in Roslyn, Washington.

Many cities and states have film commissions that offer tax incentives to production companies. There is a lot of filming in and around Austin, Texas, for example. There is a vibrant film industry in the city because of the credits offers.

Hollywood was built on it. New York City has a film commission. And lest you think this isn’t necessary, one needs to remember that a lot of TV shows, especially those set in eastern cities, have been filmed in Canada, where it’s cheaper to film, and the government not only offers tax credits, but often cash incentives as well. Which brings us to the next point, tax credits [or tax exemptions, if you will] are not monies paid out, but simply tax monies not collected.

These incentives work. They attract filmmakers to Alaska. [or wherever they are offered] In turn, these filmmakers, their cast and crew, spend money in the local economy. And of course, in the case of the sort of shows coming out of Alaska, most definitely attract tourists.

The small tax credit the production company that created Sarah Palin’s Alaska received is chump change considering the advertising benefit the state’s tourism bureau received.

In world of sports marketing there is a firm called Joyce Julius & Associates. Their focus is analyzing the number of “impressions” someone watching an event gets of a sponsor’s product. This is especially effective in NASCAR and NHRA Drag Racing.

JJ&A looks at how many times a viewer is exposed to the sponsor’s product, and even grades the quality of the exposure. Time on the air, placement of the sponsor’s logo, and other criteria is used. JJ&A will then write detailed reports for the sponsors, who use these reports to evaluate whether or not they are getting their money’s worth from their marketing partnership with any given team.

When you look at the nine episodes of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, and add up the total high quality impressions of Alaska’s natural beauty the viewer was treated to, I’d say the state of Alaska come out way ahead. The same can’t be said for Tucker Carlson and his rag, The Daily Caller.

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Filed under In The News, Politics, sarah palin

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