California incentives extended one year

Backers originally sought five-year extension

The State Senate has voted to extend California’s film production incentive program for a single year rather than the five years its backers had sought.

The legislation was approved 34-2 in Senate early Saturday, sending Assembly Bill 1069 to Gov. Jerry Brown for approval, as the legislature began wrapping up its session for the year.

AB 1069, amended on Aug. 26 by the state Senate Appropriations Committee, would provide a one-year $100 million extension to California’s 3-year-old Film and Television Tax Credit Program. In its three-year history, the California program has allocated credits totaling $400 million and will allocate its final $100 million by next July.

The bill, authored by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, received a 77-1 approval in the Assembly in June when it provided for a five-year extension. The revised bill made the funds contingent upon demonstration that the state is receiving sufficient revenues in the current budget year, but that provision was removed from the final bill.

Ben Golombeck, deputy chief of staff for Fuentes, said that removing the budget trigger was crucial. He also told Variety, “We plan to take up the five-year extension again next year.”

California’s program, aimed at halting runaway production, stipulates that producers can use the credits only after post-production is completed. The credits allocated next year would be used during the 2013-14 fiscal year, long after its positive economic impact is generated — estimated at $2.8 billion over its first three years.

California’s program, which offers a maximum rebate of 25%, is far smaller than those in other states. The state of New York announced last month that a record 23 series were lensing in the state this year on the heels of the state legislature’s five-year renewal of its film incentive tax program, which offers a 30% refundable state tax credit, capped at $420 million per year; New York City offers an additional 5% refundable credit, capped annually at $30 million.

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