Efforts to expand California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program got a boost today from LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and the mayors of the state’s nine other biggest cities. “Extending California’s film and television production tax credit program is a smart, prudent investment in California’s future and economic competitiveness” said Garcetti and the mayors of San Francisco Sacramento, Long Beach, Fresno, San Diego, Bakersfield, Santa Ana, Oakland and San Jose today in a letter (read it here). “In order to once again be competitive, California must put in place a meaningful, expanded credit that will bring back jobs, increase revenue, and support small businesses and vendors all across the state. Too much is at stake for the people of California to let this key industry slip away.”
The desire of the 10 Mayors to curb runaway production was expressed in writing to Assemblymen Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima). The duo are co-authors of the multi-sponsored Film and Television Job Creation and Retention Act. Introduced on February 19, the legislation proposes allowing pics with budgets of more than $75 million and network pilots to now be eligible for state tax incentives, among other measures. In an attempt to make this a statewide issue and not just an LA matter, the act also proposes an additional 5% credit to productions shot outside Southern California. No dollar figure has been attached to the legislation, but figures in the realm of $300 million-$400 million have been advocated by industry leaders. Sources tell me a figure should be named sometime this month. Having been unanimously approved by the state Assembly’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, And Internet Media committee on March 25, the proposed act goes today to the Bocanergra-chaired Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee for a hearing. Though he signed the last extension to the current program in 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown has not yet indicated whether he is in favor of expanding the program.
“This is about middle class jobs across our state,” Garcetti said in a statement today. “California’s current incentive program is not competitive — the demand for productions that want to stay here far exceeds the current program’s resources. As a result, hundreds of productions are forced to relocate outside of California. By providing incentives for productions to remain or locate here, local employees are hired and the local economy is revitalized.” Garcetti has said that bringing production back to LA is one of the top priorities of his administration. In an effort to lobby Sacramento and create a plan for LA, Garcetti named former AMPAS president and studio exec Tom Sherak the head of LA’s Film Office late last September. After Sherak passed away earlier this year, heavyweight entertainment lawyer Ken Ziffren was appointed to the post February 10.