SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Television shows filmed in New Mexico could qualify for larger tax incentives under a proposal the state House unanimously approved Wednesday in hopes of bringing more long-running TV series and their jobs to the state.
The award-winning series "Breaking Bad" is set in Albuquerque and filming a fifth and final season. One of its actors, Steven Michael Quezada, sat in the House chamber as lawmakers debated the measure.
New Mexico offers a 25 percent tax refund for certain film and TV production expenses.
Under the legislation, the incentive would increase to 30 percent for a TV show producing at least six episodes in New Mexico. The extra 5 percent also would be offered for film and TV projects that spend an extended time in New Mexico doing their main photography at one of the state's film studios.
Quezada, a New Mexico actor who won a seat on the Albuquerque school board, said in an interview that the higher incentives should encourage more TV series to come to the state.
"It's a great investment. It's a long-term thing," he said.
"Breaking Bad" follows Bryan Cranston's character Walter White, who produces and sells methamphetamine with a former student. Quezada plays DEA agent Steven Gomez.
In 2011, the state imposed a $50 million annual limit on the tax credits provided for all film and TV projects. However, the legislation will allow unused subsidies to be carried over to the next year. That could mean that more than $50 million would be available in some years.
The cap was established when New Mexico faced a budget squeeze and state officials wanted more control over the costs of the film incentives.
The state provided about $96 million in film and TV tax refunds in the 2011 budget year, as production companies rushed to receive payments before the $50 million limit took effect. The state paid out about $9.5 million in 2012, and the New Mexico Film Office estimates the incentives could reach about $45 million this year.
The proposed incentives will "send a clear and strong message to the industry that the government of the state of New Mexico welcomes the film industry and also wants more TV production filmed here locally as well," said Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, an Albuquerque Democrat who sponsored the proposal.
The measure heads to the Senate, where a similar proposal has cleared one committee.