Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed on Tuesday to push for a major increase in the state’s film and TV tax credit once the current program expires in 2020.
Garcetti was speaking at a re-election campaign event intended to highlight his role in pushing for the 2014 expansion of the program to $330 million annually.
“We really should be looking at expanding this by hundreds of millions of dollars more,” Garcetti said, surrounded by labor leaders and other industry supporters at Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios.
Garcetti argued that the current tax program does not go far enough in subsidizing post-production, meaning that jobs in special effects and music are still going abroad. He also argued that each dollar of tax credit returns more than a dollar in state and local tax revenue.
“Someone talked about $500 million in five years as the next round, but I think the sky’s the limit,” the mayor said.
The 2014 expansion was the result of a major lobbying effort on the part of the MPAA and industry trade unions. Supporters were able to win over Northern California lawmakers, who have historically opposed Hollywood subsidies, by including bonuses for productions that shoot outside of L.A. The campaign also overcame opposition from powerful players like the California Teachers Association, which argues that state resources should be focused on core services like education, and Gov. Jerry Brown, who had been openly skeptical of the idea. Supporters wanted to expand the program from $100 million to $400 million, and settled for a $330 million.
“There are levels that you could do that would be corporate welfare, that would be too high,” Garcetti told KCRW at the time. “We’ve been smart, knowing that California never has to be competing with a race to the bottom.”
Asked today if he thought there is a point at which the program becomes corporate welfare, Garcetti said he does not. “I don’t think there is a point,” he said. “With this credit, we’re always going to win.”
He also noted that Britain does not cap its incentive program. “The British aren’t dumb. They know this works,” he said.
James Duff, executive producer of “Major Crimes” and “The Closer,” argued that while the current program has been helpful, it does not go far enough.
“It’s enough money to keep Los Angeles competitive,” he said. “It is not enough to put Los Angeles where it ought to be, which is the center of the industry in the world.”
Garcetti is up for re-election on March 7.