Our Opinion: State settles for supporting role attracting films

The axiom “you must spend money to make money” presupposes you have money to spend.

Gov. Jay Nixon recently decided the state doesn’t have sufficient money to continue operations of the Missouri Film Office.

His decision is reasonable, even if the savings won’t be substantial.

The film office, a two-member agency, was established to spend tax dollars to attract filmmakers and generate a greater amount of economic development revenue for the state.

The office became the latest victim of state budget woes when the governor announced plans to withhold the $175,000 budgeted by lawmakers for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Some operations of the office, created through a contract with the University of Missouri, will be transferred to the Department of Economic Development.

Budget Director Linda Luebbering said those operations will include continuing to administer film tax credits. Those tax credits — a government equivalent of spending money — totaled about $3 million in 2010 and about $4 million the prior year.

The film office has enjoyed some success. Recent films made — in whole or in part — in Missouri include the independent movie “Winter’s Bone,” and the drama-comedy “Up In the Air,” starring George Clooney. Both received Academy Award nominations.

Given the number of mainstream and independent films made each year, however, Missouri never has achieved stardom in attracting the motion picture industry.

Although continuation of tax credits indicates the state hasn’t closed the curtain on its aspirations, eliminating the film office relegates the effort to a supporting role.

That role does not mark a dramatic change, simply a less costly one.

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