New Mexico Filming Activity Down: Film Rebate Processing Done at Glacial Pace in Santa Fe

The Albuquerque Journal ran a story Friday morning regarding the state of New Mexico’s 25% rebate on in-state expenditures for the film industry. It seems that a total of just 85 film rebate applications adding up to only $19.2 million were approved during the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Taxation and Revenue Department. That figure is down more than 67% from the 2011 fiscal year total. Journal writer Dan Boyd quoted Senator John Sapien of Corrales in explaining the dramatic drop off, “What we did by capping the film credit is scare off business.”
Director Stephen Griffin
Whatever the actual reasons for the huge drop-off in applications, there seems little doubt that the bureaucrats in Santa Fe continue to drag their feet making good on the state’s part of the rebate deal. Despite a staggering 67% reduction in the film rebate application workload, the process of converting an application into a rebate has never taken longer.
News New Mexico spoke to Stephen Griffin Friday morning. Griffin is the director of the New Mexico-based feature film, Roswell FM. Griffin and his film crew shot the feature comedy on location last summer in Roswell and the New Mexico-based film company applied for the film rebate in November of 2011.
“We were told when we applied to expect a check from Santa Fe within 60-90 days,” Griffin said. “We are a small company and we were counting on the New Mexico rebate to help us fund a portion of the post-production costs by the end of February,” he explained.
Roswell FM: Don Stark, Brendan Fehr, Mirelly Taylor, Jason London

When asked how long it finally took the state rebate check to arrive Griffin shrugged his shoulders. “We still don’t have the rebate," he said. "It’s been more than a year since we starting shooting the film and nearly eight months since we filed,” he explained. "Now when we try to check we are simply told it is in the system," he said. When we asked Griffin what sort of impact the delay was having on the project he shrugged again. “It has made it virtually impossible to budget,” he admitted.
This story of the glacial pace of processing film rebate applications sheds a new light on the range of reasons why there has been a big plunge in filming in the state.
KLEN station logo from Roswell FM

If the Roswell FM experience is not just an isolated incident, perhaps the word has gotten out on New Mexico within the film industry. Could it be that it is starting to become common knowledge that New Mexico’s bureaucracy in Santa Fe is completely incapable of delivering in a timely fashion on its film rebate commitments? Are filmmakers who must fulfill their own commitments in a timely fashion taking their business elsewhere?
FULL DISCLOSURE - Jim Spence owns an interest in Roswell FM LLC.


NMFA’s fraudulent audit is a big deal

NMPolitics - There are more questions than answers right now about why the New Mexico Finance Authority’s controller allegedly created a fraudulent audit of the agency’s finances, but what’s clear is that it’s a big deal.

State Auditor Hector Balderas announced Thursday that his agency had uncovered the fraudulent audit. In a news release, his office announced that a special audit of NMFA’s books would be conducted. NMFA quickly announced that it had retained a law firm “to conduct a thorough investigation to determine how the misrepresentation occurred and to recommend steps for strengthening financial reporting procedures,” and had hired an accounting firm to complete the agency’s fiscal year 2011 audit. Balderas also turned the matter over to law enforcement. Read full analysis here: News New Mexico


Obama Scrubs Welfare Reform Dating Back to Bill Clinton, Prefers Money for Nothing

Daily Caller - The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the controversial July 12 rule that allow states to opt out of the successful, bipartisan and popular 1996 welfare reform law that required people on welfare to also work to maintain those benefits.
Bill Clinton Signing Welfare Reform Law in 1996
Both OMB and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius approved the new rules, Kenneth Wolfe, the department’s deputy director of public affairs, told The Daily Caller.
The department will not be holding a press conference about the rules, which remove a core element of the successful reform that halved the taxpayers’ welfare caseload. The OMB is part of the White House, and works directly for President Barack Obama.
The new rule says HHS will welcome state proposals to replace work requirements with alternatives, such as job-training or classroom attendance.
Both OMB and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius approved the new rules, Kenneth Wolfe, the department’s deputy director of public affairs, told the The Daily Caller. Read full story here: News New Mexico

New Mexico Film Rebates Plunged in Fiscal Year

Albuquerque Journal (Subscription) - The amount of film rebates approved by New Mexico plunged during the just-completed budget year, the first year since the state imposed a $50 million-a-year cap on the controversial incentives. Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford this week attributed the drop in film incentives to an industry-wide slowdown and a rush to file rebate claims before last year’s new law took effect, though others point to different reasons. “What we did by capping the film credit is scare off business,” Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales, said during a legislative hearing Wednesday in Rio Rancho. A total of 85 film rebate applications totaling nearly $19.2 million were approved during the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Taxation and Revenue Department. In addition, 27 applications that add up to more than $14.1 million in rebates were still pending as of the fiscal year’s end. Those numbers fall far short of the $102 million the state paid out during the 2011 fiscal year, the final year before implementation of the annual cap and other new restrictions, which were supported by Gov. Susana Martinez. Martinez and others claimed the film incentives – which offer a 25 percent rebate to film companies for most direct, in-state expenditures – were “Hollywood subsidies” that cost the state money that could otherwise be spent on public education. Read More News New Mexico



Salazar proposes potash, oil and gas plan for NM

Ken Salazar
Business Week - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday introduced a proposal that could effectively end a decades-long squabble over development of oil and natural gas in an area that makes up the nation's greatest potash reserve. Oil and gas developers and the companies going after potash — the key ingredient in fertilizers — have been locked in a series of legal disputes over development of the resources for years. The concern has centered on contamination of the resources and mining safety. "At stake here are tens of thousands of jobs in southeastern New Mexico in the oil and gas industry as well as thousands of jobs in the potash industry," Salazar said. "And importantly, both of those industries are part of the energy and mineral security of the United States." Salazar's draft order would establish a program for identifying areas where development can happen safely. Buffer zones would be established to allow oil and gas drillers to go after the fossil fuels without compromising potash deposits. Experts say advances in drilling techniques make the proposal possible. Salazar said "drilling islands" could be created within the 625-square-mile area where potash is protected. Read More News New Mexico


Drudge Says Rice is the "Frontrunner"

Condoleeza Rice
The Drudge Report says the 66th United States Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice who was the first female African-American secretary of state, is now the frontrunner for the Vice Presidential choice of Mitt Romney.
Before joining the Bush administration, Rice was a professor of political science at Stanford University where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999. Rice also served on the National Security Council as the Soviet and East European Affairs Advisor to President George H.W. Bush during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification.
In March 2009, Rice returned to Stanford University as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.

Scandal at NMFA Emerges

KRQE - The New Mexico Finance Authority, which makes billions of dollars in loans for public projects, faked its annual audit that was sent to creditors and investors for 2011, the state auditor said Thursday.
The revelation shocked state officials and raised questions about both the potential fallout and what the false document might have been trying to hide.
"I don't know because we have never seen anything at this scale," said Antonio Corrales, director of operations for State Auditor Hector Balderas. "But if creditors come back and take those loans (that were made based on faked audit results), I don't know if ... insurance would cover it if it was provided under false pretenses. It could be huge."
In a press release announcing the findings, Balderas said he was "moving aggressively to determine the full extent of this fraud perpetrated against New Mexico's taxpayers."
"I'm extremely concerned that a report was fraudulently created in order to misrepresent the Authority's financial condition to agencies, investors and the public," he said.
Balderas said he discovered the fake audit after the NMFA failed to submit its annual review as required by law.
He says a fraudulent audit report had been produced for investors and creditors, but the firm that supposedly created that document has confirmed it is not their work. Read full story here: News New Mexico