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Congressional leaders urge extension of film tax credit

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Congressional leaders urge Sacramento to support extension for film and TV tax credit
Members of Congress: 'We fear a day, not too far off, when the film industry in California is hollowed out'

Congressional leaders from across California are pressing their colleagues in Sacramento to strengthen the state's film and television tax credit.

In a letter Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and 28 other Democrats in Congress urged leaders of the California Senate and Assembly to reauthorize and enhance the tax credit program.

The state currently allocates $100 million a year in film and TV tax credits, but funding is due to expire next year. The Assembly in May unanimously approved a bill that would extend the program five more years and allow more projects to qualify.

Backers are pushing to increase funding to $400 million a year, close to what New York allocates, but no amount has yet been finalized. The state Senate is set to vote on the bill next month.

"As members of the California Congressional Delegation, we write to ask that you reauthorize and enhance the California film tax credit," the letter states. "We appreciate your past support for reauthorizing the film tax credit, and believe that it is time to make the credit competitive with other states that are aggressively attracting film and television production from throughout California."

The authors cited a recent report from the California Film Commission that found a 58% decline since 2005 in the state's share of one-hour network drama productions -- productions that are ineligible for the tax credit. 

They also noted California's shrinking share of large budget feature production. In 1997, 16 of the 25 largest grossing films were primarily shot in California. In 2013, however, only two of 25 were produced in California, according to a recent report from FilmL.A. Inc.

"We fear a day, not too far off, when the film industry in California is hollowed out and it becomes easier to produce a movie or television show in New York or Louisiana than in California," the congressional leaders wrote. "As production moves out of our state, skilled human capital will relocate along with it, and our greatest competitive advantage, our talented workforce, will move elsewhere. If that happens, it will be a tragedy for our state’s economy and our cultural history."

Twitter: @rverrier

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