Louisiana Gubernatorial Candidate Jay Dardenne Makes Film, TV Production a Priority

That’s when voters will pick from among four major candidates running for governor of Louisiana to succeed Bobby Jindal, who’s termed out: Scott Angelle, a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission and a former lt. governor; John Bel Edwards, the minority leader of the Louisiana House of Representatives; Jay Dardenne, the incumbent lt. governor; and David Vitter, a U.S. senator from the state. Edwards is the only Democrat.

A runoff would take place on Nov. 21 if no candidate gets a majority.

For Hollywood, the contest will provide a key indication on the state’s film and TV tax incentive program — among the most popular in the U.S.

Jindal signed legislation that caps the amount of credits the state will redeem at $180 million each year and places restrictions on when this can be done, despite contentions by production industry groups that the restrictions would create uncertainty and cause studios to look elsewhere.

The issue is close to Dardenne, architect of the original tax credit legislation more than a decade ago.

“The (latest) bill was hastily passed in the waning moment of the legislative sessions,” he told Variety. It stemmed from the state’s looming cash crunch due partly to declining oil and gas revenues and the requirement to pass a balanced budget.

“I’ve talked with 10 different studio executives and they have all said that (the new limitations) create unnecessary instability and make them gun shy,” Dardenne says.

If he wins the election, Dardenne plans to call a special session of the legislature to change the timing of the tax credit provisions, along with flattening tax rates. “I think that would send a clear message that we are paying attention to industry concerns.”

He doesn’t plan to seek a change in the $180 million cap.

“It’s a very generous program that’s grown exponentially and exceeded our original expectations,” Dardenne says. “It’s been a great incentive and it really put us on the map with shows like ‘Duck Dynasty,’ ‘Treme’ and ‘NCIS: New Orleans.’”

Louisiana saw more feature films shot in 2014 than any other state, he noted. That activity has helped build a production base and served to attract tourists.

“I know many of our visitors to Louisiana are here because of the exposure we’ve received on television and as the preferred location for more feature films than anywhere in North America,” he adds. “This industry is also a perfect fit for the creative culture in Louisiana.”

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