The battle over tax breaks for California film and TV production intensified today as scaled-back, pared-down legislation moved to the state Senate for final consideration. An extension of  California’s showbiz incentive program (Assembly Bill 1069) was cut down from 5 years to just one year by the state Senate Appropriations Committee. The Assembly in May passed a version that would have extended the $100M per-year credit program through 2014. That time element could still be adjusted in the Senate, but the cutback is indicative of the scrutiny expenditures of any sort are receiving as the Legislature struggles with the state’s $9B budget shortfall.

Critics say California has far more crucial spending priorities than handouts to a wealthy industry at taxpayer expense and want to eliminate the tax breaks altogether. Industry advocates say the state needs the incentives to compete with other states offering similar or greater tax breaks to film/TV producers. They point to a study released in June by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp, which said the program has brought $3.8B in economic output and supported 20,040 jobs since its inception in 2009. Meanwhile, figures released today by FilmLA show that feature film production is the engine driving production gains in on-location shoots in L.A. County. The overall number of production days spent on movies last week was up 66% over the same period a year ago, while TV production was off 11% and commercials shoots rose 4%. Overall production is up 6% from the same period a year ago, according to the permit agency.