Lawmakers sliced $5 mil from program

Gov. Gray Davis has agreed to continue the state’s anti-runaway production incentive program for another year after the state Legislature cut its 2001-02 funding to $10 million from $15 million.

Davis included the funds in signing the 2001-02 budget, which saw reductions in dozens of programs in response to the slowing economy. The Film California First program was created a year ago when Davis tapped the state’s surplus and initiated a three-year, $45 million program to subsidize production costs.

The program supplies rebates to producers to cover costs of state and federal employees, property use fees, safety costs and public equipment fees. For example, the program will reimburse more than $75,000 to 20th Century Fox for filming “Planet of the Apes” over three weeks on public land near Ridgecrest.

California Film Commission director Karen Constine announced Friday that the state has received applications from more than 500 production companies seeking nearly $5 million in rebates since the program launched early this year.

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