“We want House of Cards here, want Veep here, and we want other productions,” Manno says. “The message we want to send is that we want and need and are committed to building a permanent film-production program in Maryland.”
Manno calls entertainment production “vital to our economy and our arts sector.”
A 2010 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, however, concluded that film-production tax credits generate as little as 7 cents for every public dollar spent, and multiple studies have found that they never generate enough tax revenue to pay for themselves.
Manno dismisses these concerns. “Whatever the percentage is, it’s a percentage of an industry that wasn’t in Maryland before the incentive was there,” he says. “We have determined that they make good economic sense for us. It’s not just sexy. I don’t think any of us are wooed by the shows. It’s kind of neat that they’re here. But we have to make a budget. It has to make economic sense.”
Asked about the future of House of Cards in Maryland, Manno replied, “I haven’t spoken to Frank Underwood or the producers.”
Manno will not name any legislators who object to the film-production tax credit on the basis that it is a bad deal for taxpayers, but he hinted that some delegates are insufficiently zealous in defense of the costly incentive.
“What happened was a difference not only in the amount of money but in the level of commitment to this program,” he says.
— Tim Cavanaugh is news editor of National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.