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The State Assembly has approved a bill for a five-year extension of California’s 2-year-old Film & Television Tax Credit Program, which has allocated $300 million in credits so far.

Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes’ bill, AB 1069, received a 72-1 endorsement Tuesday and will move to the State Senate. The program’s currently slated to end in fiscal year 2013-14, with the last credits to be allocated by July 2012.

“By any measure, the program so far has been a tremendous success and should be extended,” Fuentes said. “With the state’s unemployment rate hovering around 12%, we need this incentive to help keep hundreds of thousands of Californians employed. Extending this incentive program will prevent production companies from moving their projects, jobs and spending out of California.”

Fuentes cited state reports that the tax credits have resulted in $2.2 billion in direct production spending in California so far — with $728 million of that spent on wages for an estimated 25,700 below-the-line crew and 6,100 cast members, with an additional 172,000 individuals having received daily employment as background extras.

Fuentes, a Democrat repping Arleta, noted that more than 40 U.S. states, New York City and Canada offer “substantial” financial incentives to the film industry to lure production and post-production jobs and spending away from California.

“What we hear so often from the film industry is that they want to film here in California, but financially it is challenging,” he said. “What we’re doing with this bill is retaining and creating jobs by leveling the playing field and making California competitive again. The entertainment industry is one of the signature industries not only in Los Angeles but throughout the state of California. New York would never let their signature industry — the financial industry — leave, and I believe we can’t afford to let our signature industry walk away from our great state.”

The California Film Commission began accepting applications on June 1 for the next $100 million round of tax credits.

The Golden State’s program, approved in early 2009, is significantly smaller and not as sweet as many others, with a maximum 25% credit and a total of $500 million in credits over five years. But state officials have contended that Hollywood’s existing infrastructure and the desire to stay close to home have the potential to reverse more than a decade of runaway production.

More than 100 productions have taken part in the program including “No Strings Attached,” “Faster” and “The Social Network,” the TV series “Justified” and the upcoming “The Muppet Movie.”

The state’s five-year program covers 20% of below-the-line expenses for productions of up to $75 million. It can be sweetened to 25% of expenses for indie feature productions of up to $10 million — and for all existing TV shows that relocate to California.