California Senate Passes $330 Million in Annual Film and TV Incentives

4:37 PM PST 08/29/2014 by Alex Ben Block
AP Images

The $1.65 billion program, which runs five years, more than triples the tax credits in an effort to retain and get back productions

The California Senate on Friday afternoon passed the bill to expand and extend film/TV tax incentives that will provide $330 million in tax credits for five years beginning next July by a vote of 32 to 2.

It is expected to be passed by the state Assembly as well on Friday or over this weekend. Gov. Jerry Brown is then expected to sign the bill, probably in the middle of September.

The bill was expected to pass after a deal was made in the past week between legislative leaders and Brown. It is seen as not only a major increase over the current $100 million a year but also a bill that provides transparency, accountability and one that can really result in saving and growing jobs.

Senate president pro tem-elect Kevin de Leon (D-L.A.), who has been a driving force in shaping and pushing the legislation,  was among the first to speak in the Senate on behalf of the bill. He noted that studies show for every job created in the entertainment industry, at least 2.7 other jobs are created in the state.

Not all agreed. Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Martinez) said she was against it because she feels the money could be better used elsewhere.

However, as the vote showed, the majority supported the bill. Unlike previous efforts to pass similar bills, this time it was a bipartisan effort for the most part; and had support from legislators from both northern and Southern California.

In his final summation, de Leon called it a “strategic investment” in jobs and the California economy.

"This adds to our economy," de Leon told his fellow Senators, "and has a very powerful economic impact."

De Leon called the bill “a smart, efficient and robust tax credit” that will help stop jobs that are “hemorrhaging” from the state.

There have been questions over the years whether this is a Hollywood only bill, said Senator Alex Padilla  (D-L.A.) during the pre-vote debate. "This helps that community and surrounding communities and frankly it is not [just about Hollywood]."

"This expansion of the Film and TV Tax Credit is a huge victory for Californians," said actress Halle Berry in a statement. "Our industry produces so many great jobs for Californians, especially the people behind the scenes who make the magic happen—the make-up artists, grips, caterers, dry cleaners, accountants, special effects, you name it. We must do everything possible to keep these creative people fueling our economy.”

"California for once is putting some money on the table to become more competitive,” says Joe Chianese, executive vp of Entertainment Partners. “The $330 million is going to expand the types of TV the state attracts. Raising the cap on tent pole movies will get larger movies to film here again. I think its all good.”

"We’re not going to get every tent pole," said Gene Erbin, a Sacramento lawyer who worked with the Directors Guild on the bill. "We’re not delusional. We will get our share back. We believe  it will work."

The original bill was written by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-L.A.) and Raul Bocanegra (D-L.A) but in the end had wide support from the leadership and members of both chambers.

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