California Movie and TV Tax Incentive Bill Passes Full State Senate

1:19 PM PST 08/31/2012 by Alex Ben Block

There is only a procedural vote in the Assembly left before the two-year extension is sent to Gov. Brown. The Assembly is expected to act by Midnight Friday, which is when the legislative session is scheduled to end.

Legislation to extend California’s $100 million in annual tax credits for two more years to keep movie and TV production in the state passed the full state Senate Friday by a vote of 32 to 2 on its way to almost certain final passage by midnight, when the legislative session ends.

There is still a procedural vote on a companion bill in the state Assembly that needs to pass, but that seems almost certain since that body has supported the legislation all the way through the process.

Once it clears both Houses, the bill goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who must sign it before it becomes law. The governor through a representative said he will not decide until the bill reaches his desk, but  it is likely he will sign the extension.

Brown signed a similar one-year extension at the end of the legislative session last year.

This is actually the second time the Senate has passed the extension. However, because a different bill went through the Assembly, that had to be passed by the Senate as well. The Assembly is in the process of approving the Senate version.

The extension, which has strong support from Hollywood’s unions and guilds, including the Screen Actors Guild and IATSE, was originally proposed for five years. However, in a state Senate committee the term was cut; and the Assembly followed suit so that the legislation could match up for passage.

The state first passed tax credits in 2009 under then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for five years. It is intended to help keep movie and TV productions in the state at a time more than 40 other states and many countries are trying to woo producers with incentives and tax breaks. Many of those are more generous than the California plan but no other state has as much infrastructure; and the state is also home to many of the companies and creative artists who prefer to work close to home.

While $100 million sounds like a lot of money, it is actually far short of meeting the demand. The tax credit program is administered by the California Film Commission, which opens and closes the application process in one day in early June. Those who do not get funded that day go on a waiting list.

The bill was introduced in the state Senate by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and the companion bill in the Assembly was introduced by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar.

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