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Panel to hear criticism on film tax

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Lawmakers will consider the fate of Maryland's controversial program to lure film and television crews to the state with millions in tax dollars.

Today, during a public hearing, state lawmakers will hear public testimony on whether the costly program is worth the money.

The same program that gave millions of taxpayer dollars to Netflix's "House of Cards" series and HBO's "Veep" was sharply criticized by state analysts as ineffective. In a draft report released last month, analysts said for every dollar in film incentives the state paid out, the government received just 10 cents in tax revenue in return.

Since 2012, Maryland lawmakers approved spending $62.5 million in film and television tax credits, with much of the cash going to the political thriller "House of Cards" and satirical "Veep."

A panel of lawmakers convened to study the effectiveness to the tax credits will hear public testimony on the draft report today, though a final decision is not expected and is largely in the hands of Maryland's next governor.

Gov.-elect Larry Hogan, a Republican ushered into office after promising to curb state spending, on Thursday said he did not have a public position on the film tax credit. "I don't have any thoughts on that right now," Hogan said. During the campaign, however, Hogan called legislators' willingness to spend money earmarked for the arts on film tax credits "outrageous."

The program sparked controversy during this year's legislative session when lawmakers balked at paying out everything "House of Cards" producers wanted to continue to filming in Maryland. P

roducers threatened to film the popular series elsewhere. Kevin Spacey, who stars as Machiavellian politician Frank Underwood, visited Annapolis to personally woo lawmakers to approve more tax credits. The series delayed filming for Season 3 in order to work out a deal. The show announced Monday the third season will premiere on Feb. 27.

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