Last Modified: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 6:56 PM
A committee of state lawmakers formed to study state tax exemptions should be buttressed by a nearly $1 million tax credit that has sparked a criminal investigation.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten is now investigating the details of the money that was spent on the movie ‘‘Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras: Building of the Greatest Free Show on Earth.’’
Blain Kern Artists and its partner, Louisiana Entertainment and Productions, claimed in 2009 to have spent about $3.4 million producing the documentary on the making of floats for Mardi Gras. In doing so, Blaine Kern Artists filed for about $1 million in tax credits from the state of Louisiana
However, a report by the Legislative Auditor’s Office found that all but a few dollars were spent building Mardi Gras floats — part of Blain Kern Artists’ normal business — and that those expenses had been paid by Carnival krewes, making the company ineligible for the tax credits.
During a meeting of the Legislative Audit Advisory Committee, state lawmakers asked if any pressure had been applied from anyone in state government to grant the tax credits.
Auditors said the state Department of Economic Development, which oversees the entertainment industry development division within the department, said they found no wrongdoing on the part of DED. They testified that the fault led with company officials who misled DED.
DED Secretary Stephen Moret said that the department is working on a plan to recover the money, but added that recouping the money may be held up by Letten’s investigation and any charges that might be brought against the companies.
Moret said that he believes the tax credit program has enough safeguards to prevent similar abuses.
But this saga does raise the question of whether this was an anomaly or if there is wider abuse.
That possibility, plus the state’s current budget crisis that may result in more than $850 million cuts in health care services to the state’s uninsured and underinsured, should provide plenty of motivation for the Revenue Study Commission, a panel of 14 state lawmakers charged with reviewing the $6.8 billion in tax exemptions the state currently grants.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,
Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
Posted By: belle On: 7/25/2012
This is almost funny if it wasn't just sad. Ok so this is probably worth looking into but what about the big industries??? Big money, not small guys. This looks like someone is doing something because to those of us that 1 million is a lot of money we could be fooled into thinking this means something. Write a story about Big industry, Big box chain stores, oil, fracing or anything with real VALUE. So how much will we spend to go after this while the big guys laugh all the way to the bank. Check into the 6 billion dollar project in Cameron what does thier tax RELIEF look like thats the real issue. Please!!!
Partners in Education really People think that that money comes from the industries NOPE from the tax paying workers checks, write about that. Why dont they GIVE back to the community? The Arts are always the fall guy.