Northern California Democrats in the state Senate hold the key to passage of the state’s proposed expansion of its film production tax incentives. As in years past, they’re not particularly eager to save film and TV industry jobs located far away in Southern California.
AB 1839, which would quadruple the state’s production tax incentives and make other important changes, already has been approved by the Assembly and by the Senate Appropriations Committee. It’s widely expected to be approved by the full Senate ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline. But that’s not a sure thing given that upstate Democrats who control the Senate have impeded tax-incentive legislation for years, even though the incentives are designed to stop runaway film and TV production that’s been siphoned by hefty competing packages in other states and countries.
LA City Councilman Paul Krekorian, a Democrat who authored the existing film tax incentives when he was in the Assembly in 2009, is all too familiar with the Democratic Party’s north-south political divide not just on film-industry jobs but much else.
“There have been seven or eight Assembly bills introduced and passed through the Assembly dealing with grants, loans and tax credits to help this industry,” he said at a City Council committee hearing earlier this year. “And until 2009, every single one of these died in the state Senate because the state Senate is led by Northern California Democrats who, for some reason, could not see the jobs benefits and economic-development impact of this on working- and middle-class people. It’s been a great source of frustration that we always seem to crash on the shores of Northern California.”
Even if the bill passes the Senate, it must still be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who has yet to declare a position. On Wednesday, Brown Press Secretary Evan Westrup told Deadline, “Generally, we do not comment on pending legislation.”
If Brown, who has built a reputation as deficit hawk in his second turn as governor, doesn’t want to sign the bill but also doesn’t want to take the blame for it in a re-election year, it’s possible he could ask those NoCal Democrats to kill it.
Add in hostility to the bill from fiscal conservatives and Tea Party activists in Orange County and elsewhere in the state, and the bill could easily die, again. Not that that’s going to happen for sure, but with politics, you never know.