One measure of the true cost of these programs is whether states recoup their subsidies through increased tax revenue. A comprehensive review of the recent literature produced by states in 2009 (when these programs were at their peak) finds consistent, negative results. Connecticut got .07 for each dollar it gave away in tax credits. Louisiana looked at it twice and found it got either $.13 for $.18 for each dollar spent on tax credits. Massachusetts got $.16 on the dollar. Michigan got $.11 for each dollar. New Mexico got $.14, and Pennsylvania got $.24 for each dollar. Arizona received the highest return, getting $.28 for each dollar it spent on tax credits.
The problem with these programs goes far beyond the pain felt by those communities forced to pay for the promises made to lure Hollywood productions. They breed a culture of corruption and greed that moves beyond the type of honest graft that the MPAA is willing to claim, and drifts into a dark world of fraud and illegality that demonstrates how destructive subsidies that distort competition can become.