Even as new legislation to expand and evolve California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program weaves through the state Assembly, Governor Jerry Brown’s administration today refused to unequivocally come out in support of the effort. “I realize the tax credit is a concern,” said Kish Rajan, Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to the concerned industry heavy crowd at the state Film Commission’s annual locations breakfast. “There are difficult political considerations,” added the appointed official indicating Brown’s lack of open support of the widely co-sponsored and industry supported bill that was introduced on February 19. Rajan spoke Thursday before an audience at the W Hotel in Hollywood that included LA Film Czar Ken Ziffren, Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemish, Disney/ABC’s Director of Production Finance Valerie Spiller, and reps from Film L.A.
While naming no dollar amount yet, the anti-runaway production AB 1839 from Assemblymen Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) aims to increase the figure available, remove ineligibility caps on pics with budgets of more than $75 million and TV pilots as well as put the program on a more stable footing. The bill unanimously passed its first test last month when the Assembly’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, And Internet Media committee voted in favor of it. Now, AB 1839 faces the Gatto-chaired Taxation committee next month, then 3 more hearings plus at least 2 floor votes before it even gets to Brown’s desk. And there is no certainty the running for re-election politician will sign it, as the influential California Teachers’ Association and the California School Employees Association have made clear their opposition to more money for a Hollywood hit hard by lucrative competition from other states and overseas.
“I share the optimism that we can continue to work this out,” said Rajan today while offering no specifics. Displaying some public sensitivity to his audience, the state official, who has been in his job for the past 18 months, did reveal that the Governor’s office has been meeting with studio execs, union reps and others on the matter on the tax credit. “Your success is our success,” Rajan noted, adding how “vital” Hollywood is to the state’s recovering economy. The state Business and Economic Development director said that is what he tells Brown and that’s what Brown believes – but there was no indication when or if that belief is going to translate into action.