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NM governor vetoes TV, film incentives expansion

The Associated Press, Friday, March 15, 2013, 2:27pm (PDT)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez, whose crackdown on unlimited film subsidies has been blamed for a drop in TV and movie production in New Mexico, vetoed a so-called "Breaking Bad" bill on Friday that would have sweetened the tax deal for TV series that film in the state.

In her message to the Legislature, Martinez said she supports the film industry but objected to lawmakers approving only a subsidy for Hollywood rather than making it part of broader economic development tax incentives she is seeking.

"I cannot in good conscience further expand New Mexico's film subsidy while leaving other sectors in our economy unassisted and genuine reform unattained," the Republican wrote in her veto message.

John Hendry, a union representative for film workers, said he remained optimistic a compromise could be reached before lawmakers adjourn on Saturday.

"Her message was very positive," Hendry said. "There is a deal to be had. We are not going to throw New Mexico workers under the bus just for the film industry. So we are encouraging everyone to work for a deal."

Wayne Rauschenberger, the chief operating officer of Albuquerque Studios, said he was disappointed.

"This is not the message we want to send out to the industry right now!" he said in an email.

New Mexico offers a 25 percent tax refund for certain film and TV production expenses, but caps the amount of payouts per year at $50 million.

That cap was imposed two years ago by Martinez and is blamed by the industry for a drop in productions in New Mexico. Industry officials have said the lack of a guaranteed incentive was harder on television series than high-budget movies.

They were worried about attracting new shows now "Breaking Bad" and "In Plain Sight," which helped Albuquerque make a name in the film industry, are leaving. "In Plain Sight" has wrapped it final season, and "Breaking Bad" is finishing production of its last season.

The vetoed bill would have allowed unused subsidies up to $10 million to carry over to the next year. In addition, it would have increased the incentive to 30 percent for a TV show producing at least six episodes in New Mexico, and for film and TV projects using a studio in the state over an extended time.

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