Compromise reached to extend, raise funding for film and television tax credit program

A compromise was reached Wednesday between Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers on a bill that would extend and more than triple funding for a program designed to keep film and television jobs in California, clearing the way for state Senate consideration of the measure. 

The agreement raises the funding to $330 million a year for the next five years, from $100 million annually under the original measure that started the state’s film and TV tax-credit program.

While it’s shy of the $400 million sought originally, supporters say it will go a long way to keep film and TV work in California.

AB 1839, introduced by Assemblymen Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) and Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), would allow more types of projects to qualify, such as big-budget movies and new network television dramas.

It would also give extra incentives for California-based production work that shoots in cities other than Los Angeles and protect jobs and wages for below-the-line workers, such as crew members.

“We’ve been working very hard to fashion a piece of legislation that would not only be bigger, but smarter and more thoughtful and one that would really ensure that good paying jobs stay in Southern California and my district,” Gatto said. “I feel rather comfortable that we delivered on that goal.”

The compromise is the result of talks between Brown, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Senate President Pro-Tem-elect Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).

The original legislation that created the program — the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act — took effect in 2009.

The act kept 51,000 jobs in the state and generated $4.5 billion in economic activity, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Despite the monetary boost, the California’s film and television industry lost more than 16,000 jobs from 2004 to 2012. That includes a loss of $1.5 billion in wages and economic activity.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who last month led a letter sign by 28 of his Congressional colleagues in support of reauthorizing and enhancing the tax credit to the state legislature, said he was pleased with the deal.

“The announcement of a deal to expand California’s state film tax credit is a great victory in the fight to keep good middle-class jobs in our state and in the Los Angeles area,” Schiff said in a statement. “For too long, California’s status as the location of choice for movie and film production has been eroded by aggressive tax credits in other states, threatening both our state’s economy and our cultural history.”

He said the agreements shows that the state’s leadership intends to fight back to gain back the film and TV work.

“I have no doubt that on a level playing field, we’ll be able to keep these productions and the skilled jobs they create here at home for decades to come,” he said.

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