Georgia’s music industry brought a bit of star power to the state Capitol as part of a pitch for a music industry tax break.
“As a huge music fan, I want to see the music industry in the state of Georgia thrive the way that the film industry has,” said state Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, author of House Bill 155, a bill that proposes tax credits for some music industry spending in Georgia.
She was speaking not 30 feet away from where Grammy-winning performer Mac Powell had just finished a song under the Gold Dome as part of “Georgia Music Day,” an industry event, last week. More than 100 people were on hand, many of them wearing stickers that read “Music Is Economic Development.”
Carter’s bill aims to boost the number of records, tours and, ultimately, jobs that come from the music industry in Georgia. The bill offers tax credits of up to 25 percent of qualified spending in the state. The bill has the support of state House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.
Film productions already get a similar tax credit in Georgia, which is widely credited with boosting the state’s film industry.
Steve Moretti is a percussionist, but he’s also president and CEO of Macon Pops. Its events are like a “nightclub with a 40-piece orchestra” that plays contemporary music, he said.
He supports the bill and thinks Macon has a lot to offer artists who might now be working in Tennessee, Mississippi or other places.
“I think (Macon) is a large enough city, but it’s out of the way, so if somebody wants some peace and quiet, they can come and get work done and not be bothered and not have to worry about the hustle and bustle,” he said.
But the tax-credit approach isn’t without controversy. Wesley Tharpe at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a think tank in Atlanta, said the concern with any new business tax break is that it will carry a price tag.
“Georgia doesn’t have a very good system of regularly reviewing business tax-break programs to see what return on investment we’re getting,” Tharpe said. “Because some of these programs are probably worthwhile; some of them likely are not. We just don’t have very good tools for identifying which is which.”
It’s not yet clear how much music industry tax breaks might be worth. Carter said she is waiting on a “fiscal note:” the official, nonpartisan calculation of a bill’s cost.
Maggie Lee: @maggie_a_lee