IATSE wants to flood Gov. Jerry Brown and Sacramento with letters urging an expansion of California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program. Last week the union sent out packages to members urging them to sign letters to two state Senate committees and the Governor to stop runaway production and pledge support and passage of the multi-sponsored Film and Television Job Creation and Retention Act. “We are in a fight to save our families and our livelihoods,” said the letter to Brown (read it here). “I respectfully ask you to be our champion and to save our iconic industry,” it adds. Though he takes money for his re-election from Hollywood moguls, Brown has refused to publicly state his support for a recent bill to expand the Golden State’s tax incentives to make them more competitive with other states, various Canadian and countries like the UK and stop jobs fleeing out of the home of Hollywood.
Introduced in late February by Democrats Mike Gatto and Raul Bocanegra,the state Assembly overwhelmingly passed the Act on May 28. While now allowing pics with budgets over $75 million and network pilots to be eligible for tax credits, the legislation, also known as AB 1839, still doesn’t yet have a dollar figure attached to it even though the state budget is now complete as of June 15. However, sources tell me a figure could be named in the next couple of weeks. The legislation is now scheduled for its first Senate hearing on June 25 where IATSE aim to “drop boxes containing at least 6,000 letters” on the desk of Governance and Finance committee. It wants 10,000 letters by the time the state Senate Appropriations Committee holds hearings and “for the Governor we want even more.” If it passes the committees, the legislation will go to the Senate for a floor vote, back to the Assembly and then to Brown to sign. The Governor last signed an extension of the tax credits on the last day possible in September 2012.
Using similar language to the letters to state Senators Lois Wolk and Kevin De Leon, the current letter to Brown goes straight for the modern politician’s soft spot. It claims that because of not having big enough tax incentives, California has lost “thousands of good-paying, middle-class jobs, and with them we are losing out millions in tax dollars for critical public services. “
This latest move by unionized Hollywood comes just days after Teamsters exec Rome A. Alloise told a pro-tax credits rally in San Francisco that more direct action could also be in the cards. The VP told a pack ballroom in the city’s Fairmont Hotel on June 14 that the Teamsters would block the state capitol with their trucks if Brown and other Sacramento politicians didn’t support expanding the tax incentives.