The Lone Star State just ponied up some serious bucks to bring film and TV production to Texas. Last week the state Legislature voted $95 million for use by its Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program for the next two years. That’s a jump of $63 million from the program’s present level. Senate Bill 1 now moves to Gov. Rick Perry to sign into law. The state’s program was set to expire in August if it had not been refunded.
The bounce up from the program’s current $32 million level was in part due to $68 million allocated from the state’s Hotel Occupancy Tax. Like many states around the country, Texas has started offering lucrative incentives in recent years to lure production. The $95 million is the most Texas has ever committed to its TV and Film incentive program. The previous high was $63 million allocated in 2009 only to be cut to $32 million is statewide program budget cuts in 2011. While nowhere near the $420 million that New York offers annually, the newly approved Texas’ program is just a nose behind the $100 million that California awards producers and filmmakers every year under a lottery system.Productions are eligible for the Texas program, which covers video games as well, if 70% of their cast and crew are state residents. They also have to shoot at least 60% of their project in the state and budget to spend at least $250,000 in Texas. Despite criticism from some, the program seems to be money well spent. A report from the Texas Film Commission this year estimated that the $94 million that the program had handed out since it was first funded in 2007 has resulted in $744 million being spent in the state. Besides already being home to productions and series like TNT’s Dallas, which was renewed in April for a third season, Texas will see NBC’s J.J. Abrams-produced drama Revolution moving to Austin for its second season — a move partially inspired by the state’s incentives.