EXCLUSIVE: With little more than three weeks left in the legislative session, Kevin De Leon is demanding big changes to efforts to expand California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program. If the influential state Senate Appropriations Committee chairman doesn’t get his eleventh-hour way, I’ve learned that he intends to kneecap the multi-sponsored Film and Television Job Creation and Retention Act before it reaches the Legislature’s floor for a vote this month. “Following a long meeting this weekend, and numerous conversations over the past year, Senator De Leon has decided he will not support the extension of the current lottery allocation system,” said a curt email that went out earlier today from De Leon’s Chief of Staff to politicians and industry leaders.
Causing chaos in Sacramento today, the sudden shift from the LA Democrat comes less than a week before the committee he chairs is set to have a vital hearing on the Act and its effort to triple the annual allocation to at least $400 million. “His conclusion is that the existing credit has too many weaknesses to be substantially expanded this year. At least not in the range the advocates are currently pushing,” Dan Reeves stated for his boss, who has long been a big supporter of efforts to expand the 5-year old program.
“This is pure political brinksmanship and extremely irresponsible,” a studio insider said to me of the senator’s move. Later this afternoon, Reeves sent out a more subdued email for De Leon requesting a “stakeholder” meeting on the tax credit topic on August 7 in the state capital. “We were blindsided by this,” said another insider, calling the first email sloppy and stupid. “This is either a cheap ploy to make a deal on another issue or they really are trying to kill the bill.”