MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A popular celebrity chef and food writer made a stop at the State Capitol Wednesday.

Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarre Foods” is lobbying to save the Snowbate tax credit.

The program provides tax incentives for both Hollywood and local production companies.

“If we can help curate, gestate, grow and educate a whole generation of young Minnesotans in production issues, we could own — in 15 years — production in America,” Zimmern said.

During the current two-year funding period, about $10 million in Snowbate dollars have been allocated for TV and film offices in Minnesota, and for rebates for production companies.

“Every night I turn on the news there’s employees being let go from big Fortune 100 companies here in our state. What replaces that? Is it manufacturing? I don’t think so. Is it digital production? You bet I think so,” Zimmern said. “I think this could be something that we lead with.”

But opponents of Snowbate spending, like Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, says the money going into the program could be better served elsewhere.

“We’re not sure that the best way to create jobs is by providing tax incentives to Hollywood producers and film stars,” Garofalo said

The House did not approve any money in their budget to fund the Snowbate tax this session.

“What we know is that we get far more job creation from energy infrastructure, from building roads and bridges, from investing in schools,” Garofalo said.

While the House does not have any money for Snowbate, the Senate omnibus bill approved $13 million over the next two-year funding period.

The two sides will try and work out their differences in conference committee.

John Lauritsen

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