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Hollywood tax credit extension moves forward in California Legislature

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California lawmakers gave initial approval Thursday to a proposed two-year, $200-million extension of the state’s film tax credit, despite opposition from teachers and others to giving Hollywood so much financial help when the state is cutting basic services, including college aid and child care and parks services.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved the legislation after Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) said his proposal is needed to help the state’s economy and prevent film productions from moving to Canada and other low-tax locations. The $100-million-per-year tax credit program began in 2009.

‘These tax credits provided jobs in the state when they were sorely needed,’ Calderon said before the committee voted 5-1 to send the measure to the Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) voted against the measure. ‘I have very strong hesitations on such a very generous tax credit at this time when we are making so many difficult cuts,’ Kehoe said, suggesting that the extension should be scaled back to one year.

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The measure also drew opposition from Jennifer Baker, a legislative advocate for the California Teachers Assn. ‘At a time when we are having to cut education, when we are having to cut higher education and a multitude of social services … we find it very disheartening that we would have a conversation about extending tax credits,’ Baker told the committee.

Supporters of the bill include NBCUniversal, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the Directors Guild of America and Paramount Pictures.

[For the Record, 11:55 a.m. June 28: An earlier version of this post said lawmakers approved a five-year, $500-million extension of the state’s film tax credit. In fact, the bill was amended in committee to extend the film tax credit by two years, for $100 million a year.]

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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento


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