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State pol vows to push film incentive bill

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes seeks new five-year program

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes has pledged to introduce legislation that would extend California’s film production incentive program — probably for five years.

Fuentes said Thursday that he will introduce a bill within the next several weeks. He carried last year’s legislation, which extended the program for a single year after the original bill provided for five years.

“We need to get more years to telegraph stability to the industry,” Fuentes (D-Sylmar) said in a roundtable discussion organized by incentive supporters at the Beverly Garland Hotel in North Hollywood.

Showbiz producers and unions have been strong supporters of California’s four-year-old Film and Television Tax Credit Program, which has doled out $400 million in tax credits to date.

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.

Fuentes, who heads the state assembly’s appropriations committee, told supporters that they need to focus on persuading Brown and Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg on the merits of a five-year program. Assembly Bill 1069, authored by Fuentes, provides a $100 million, one-year extension to the program, with those credits to be allocated in July 2013 for use during the 2013-14 fiscal year.

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 benefit studios and other well-heeled production companies, and some have questioned the accuracy of the projected economic benefits.

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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