A bill to extend a tax incentive program designed to attract more movie productions to Oklahoma passed the state Senate on Thursday, despite complaints from some senators that Hollywood has painted an unflattering image of the state.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 31-11. It will now be sent to the governor, who previously said she supports the program.
State Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, argued against the measure, complaining about the rebate money that went to filmmakers for “August: Osage County,” a movie that portrayed a dysfunctional Oklahoma family.
The filmmaker spent $15,321,345 in Oklahoma, including $12,542,157 in qualifying expenditures. It received a rebate of $4,640,598, according to Leslie Channell, deputy director of the Oklahoma Film & Music Office. Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts starred in the movie.
“That (rebate) money would essentially go to the Weinstein Company. Harvey Weinstein was the producer,” Dahm complained. “This is a man who has a net worth of $150 million.”
Dahm said Weinstein gave $75,000 to Democratic candidates in 2012, including $35,800 directly to Barack Obama.
Dahm facetiously suggested the state would be better off to keep the $5 million a year it spends on the film rebate program and “donate this $35,800 directly to Hillary’s 2016 campaign.” The remaining money could be used to pay for funding things like education or corrections, he said.
State Sen. Wayne Shaw, R-Grove, also debated against the bill, saying he went to a free screening of “August: Osage County.”