The state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance changed the state’s film tax credit programs and approved some of the state’s Regional Transit Authorities at its budget hearing, which stretched from late Thursday night into early this morning.
In his budget, Gov. Jim Doyle proposed ending the state’s film tax credits in exchange for a $500,000 grant program he said would help foster long-term job creation and growth in the state.
The committee unanimously voted to approve a plan proposed by Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, that will require 35 percent of a film to be shot in Wisconsin in order for a production company to be eligible for the tax credits and close a loophole that allows non-state residents to receive a larger credit than state employees.
Overall, the proposal will add $2.5 million to the budget.
“As we went around the state and heard from citizens in different areas… I think that it was consistent that we heard overwhelming support for this film incentive program,” Grigsby said.
The committee also approved a Regional Transit Authority for Dane County.
Under the proposal, the city of Madison would have two members on the board, the city of Middleton would have one, and there would be a village representative on the board as well.
However, before Dane County could build a light rail, a half-cent sales tax increase would have to be approved by a voter referendum.
The measure was ultimately passed along party lines, with Rep. Robin Vos, R-Racine, who voted against the measure, praising Dane County officials for at least requiring a referendum before a light rail could be built.
Although the measure was approved, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, there is “really no money available for this project at this time at the state level.”
The committee also approved a Milwaukee County RTA, although under the provision, a referendum would not be required for the county to construct a light rail, a measure that was highly criticized by Republicans.
Both Vos and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, argued if citizens have to be consulted for a new school to be built, they should also be consulted before a rail line is built.
The items will now be included in the final budget proposal to be voted on by the entire Legislature in the coming weeks.
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk were present at the meeting to offer their advice on the prospect of a train in Madson to the Legislature