Fuentes aims to extend state's program

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes is developing legislation that would extend California’s film production incentive program and plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session.

Details of the legislation — how many years and the amount of tax credits — should be hammered out in the coming weeks, according to Fuentes spokesman Ben Golombek, following meetings with the coalition of supporters. Showbiz producers and unions have been strong supporters of California’s 4-year-old Film and Television Tax Credit Program.

California’s state Legislature begins its session on Wednesday.

The program was extended for a year in October when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1069 on the final day for the governor to approve or veto bills from last year’s legislative session. The state Senate had voted Sept. 9 to extend the program for a single year rather than the five years its backers had sought.

Assembly Bill 1069, authored by Fuentes (D-Sylmar), provides a $100 million extension to the program, with those credits to be allocated in July 2013 for use during the 2013-14 fiscal year. The California program has allocated credits totaling $400 million.

A study issued last year by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. showed that in its first two years, the program has generated $3.8 billion in economic activity statewide, created more than 20,000 jobs and more than $200 million in tax revenues. Opponents of the program contend that the tax credits go to already-wealthy producers and question the accuracy of the projected economic benefits.

In June, California officials tapped 27 productions to receive $100 million in tax credits in the third year of the state’s incentive program — aimed at preventing production companies from moving their projects, jobs and spending out of the Golden State. In selections made via a lottery, three TV series received the largest allocations — the second season of Bad Wolf Prods.’ TV series “Torchwood,” which is relocating from Wales, at $8 million; FTP’s second season of “The Protectors,” $7.5 million; and FTP’s “Body of Proof,” which relocated from Rhode Island, $6.9 million.

The number of applications submitted last year on the first day of the application period more than doubled to 176.

California’s program, which offers a maximum rebate of 25%, is far smaller than those of other states.

The state of New York announced in August that a record 23 series were lensing in the state on the heels of the 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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