Five more years of California’s annual $330 million in film and television incentives took a big step forward today. A rare unanimous vote in the state Senate in Sacramento passed legislation designed to extend the lucrative program until 2025.
However, coming after a similar vote in the state Assembly earlier this week, that doesn’t mean this is a totally done deal, yet. With the current program that was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2014 not expiring until June 2020, Hollywood doesn’t have to worry too much about planning for the immediate future and hoping to grab a slice of that tax credit dough for Cali-based productions.
Yet, the 30,000 feet perspective reveals there is still quite a bit to be done with AB 1734 and SB 951 before a Golden State incentives program that reaches until June 2025 is locked in.
For one thing, now both bills have to cross to the other house with the Assembly legislation going to the Senate and visa versa. So, AB 1734 now has to go through two Senate committees in a process that could start as early as next week or deep into the summer once politicians return from the looming legislative recess and the campaign trial.
As well as keeping the funding and employment criteria at its present levels, both bills now include the newly added anti-sexual harassment policy requirements. Also with Career Pathways Programs for underrepresented communities to gain access to working in the film and TV industries, the Assembly and Senate bills are really pretty much the same. Yet, both could see some tweaking in the coming weeks as they approach a second set of votes.
Once the Senate bill passes through a trio of committees in the Assembly and the Assembly bill jumps through the hoops of a duo of Senate committees, the two pieces of legislation will have to be voted on by their respective chambers by August 30. In the frenzy of bill signing and rejecting that happens yearly, now lame-duck Governor Brown then has until around September 30 to given the newly minted version of one of the most generous film & TV tax credits program in the nation his consent in writing.
The math for Jerry signing the latest incentives program into law is pretty compelling. Though the introduction of a $100 million lottery-based tax credit program in 2009 by the state was a bit of a band-aid on the flood of projects and production to more economically welcoming states like Georgia and Louisiana as well as New York, the tide seemed to turn in the past few years as the original program was increased and revamped.
“In 2009, a steady stream of film and TV production was leaving California for states actively recruiting them and taking with it millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs,” co-sponsor Sen. Holly J. Mitchell (D-LA) said in a statement today after the 37-0 vote. “It is clear that this program is doubling and tripling investments in our communities and in California’s film and television legacy.”
The 2014 legislation saw the lottery jettisoned for an emphasis on employment, the pie tripled to $330 million and the once nearly dust bowl of production in the home of Hollywood saw over a dozen TV series alone relocate to California in the past three years. For the $840 million awarded to 150 approved projects of the big and small screen since the last version of the California Film Commission administered program went into effect three years ago, nearly 30,000 cast members have been hired as have 18,000 crew members, below and above the line.
As well as generating tax revenue from such employment, allocations from the surge of TV series and the increasing number of $75 million plus budgeted tentpole films that have filmed in California has seen almost $6 billion in direct in-state spending since 2015.
As we wait for the political process to play itself out in Sacramento, the latest TV application period just ended on May 25 with recipients to be made public in early July. The next feature film application deadline is June 18-22, with the awards announced in late July.