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Calif. Senate approves prod’n incentive extension

Bill is similar to legislation passed by Assembly last week

Legislation to extend California’s tax credit production incentive program for two years has cleared the State Senate on 32-3 vote in a strong show of support as it heads for the Assembly.

The Senate legislation — SB 1167, authored by Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) — matches an Assembly bill by Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) that cleared that body last week by a 70-4 margin and is now headed into the Senate.

“With the Senate’s approval of SB 1167, we move another step closer to ensuring jobs in the film and TV industries stay here in California for Californians,” Calderon said.

It’s not yet clear which bill will be the final legislation submitted to Gov. Jerry Brown, but Calderon spokesman Rocky Rushing said that discussions between the authors will likely occur this week. The state Legislature ends its session on Aug. 31.

The 3-year-old program is strongly endorsed by the film business as a sensible method to create below-the-line jobs by giving producers incentives to lense in the Golden State. Currently, California provides $100 million in annual tax credits for productions, but the 25% credit is smaller than many other programs, and demand far exceeds supply, with 28 projects selected by lottery out of more than 330 in the most recent round in June.

The current funding for the program provides for a final $100 million in tax credits to be announced next June.

The bills have been amended to provide for a two-year extension rather than a five-year term. The reduction in the number of years came after the Legislature approved a budget with several reductions in services and a report from the California’s Legislative Analyst Office asserting that the program benefits are not generating enough economic activity to make up for the attendant reduction in tax revenues.

Fuentes carried a bill last year that saw the state Senate opt for a one-year extension rather than the five-year extension originally planned. Program backers have asserted that the one-year extension, as opposed to a multiyear program, has created a lack of certainty among producers deciding whether to shoot in California.

A coalition of unions and guilds issued a statement Thursday praising the Senate. The statement was signed by the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council; Directors Guild of America; Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees; Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 399; Laborers’ Intl. Union of North America, Local 724; Professional Musicians Local 47; Recording Musicians Assn.; and SAG-AFTRA.

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