It looks like corporate incentives are here to stay, at least for a while, even with the possibility that lawmakers will reform the tax code.

Sharon Decker

“I think we’re going to be living with them,” Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker said during a journalist roundtable discussion on Monday. “If the theory that you can take corporate taxes to zero, you don’t need incentives were true, then Texas would not be – Gov. (Rick) Perry would not be full time in economic development.”

Decker said that tax reform could make North Carolina more competitive.

“But I do think incentives will be necessary,” Decker said.

Decker said that the money is not given to the companies unless the jobs are created.

Decker, who hails from Rutherford County, also spoke glowingly of the state’s film tax credit. She mentioned two movies filmed there, Dirty Dancing and The Last of the Mohicans.

“Do we want the film industry to grow in North Carolina?” Decker asked rhetorically. “I think we do.” She said that 32 states have film incentives, and the ones that do are going to get the business.

Jon Sanders, director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, has labeled film incentives as “good old-fashioned corporate welfare.”

He’s also questioned the economic benefits that bringing film production crews in actually provide to the state.

Decker said that sometimes it’s difficult to quantify the benefits that the film industry brings. However, she did say that festivals, years after the movies are produced, do bring in tourism dollars.

“Sure, it’s a source of pride,” Decker said. “That doesn’t necessary generate economic returns. But it does specifically in this case.”