Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Wednesday that will make up to $1.65 billion available over five years in tax credits to keep movie and television production in California and to lure producers back to the Golden State.
About $330 million dollars will be available annually, starting in fiscal 2015-16, under Assembly Bill 1839 co-authored by Los Angeles Democratic Assembly members Mike Gatto and Raul Bocanegra.
“Today, we remind the world that the Golden State is the home of the silver screen,” Brown said. “This bill helps thousands of Californians — from stage hands and set designers to electricians and delivery drivers.”
Under the bill, the lottery for choosing productions for tax breaks will be abandoned in favor a selection process based on their ability to boost the local economy and provide jobs.
Speaking at the bill signing ceremony at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared war on runaway production.
“Today, we fight back,” he said, adding that the city’s longtime bread and butter had been “lured away by big financial incentives from other states.”
“This legislation targets the heart and soul of this industry and our middle class — people who swing hammers, run cable and serve food on set so they can pay the bills and spend money in our economy,” he said.
The mayor, who appointed a film czar to lobby for the bill, said he pushed hard to make more money available.
The bill’s authors wanted to make $400 million available annually to compete with states such as New York, which provides about $450 million annually in tax incentives.
Gatto said he was “grateful” to those who helped get the bill passed.
“I’ve heard from so many people during my time in office, who have told me about their families being torn apart because of production fleeing the state and how this program will give stability to families, certainty to small businesses and help our communities thrive,” he said.
Bocanegra called the bill “a home run for California’s signature industry.”
“This will help to stem the tide of runaway production and put tens of thousands of Californians back to work,” he said.
Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Chris Dodd said the studios “appreciate the governor’s leadership.” He thanked Brown “for his recognition of the importance of film and TV production to the vitality of California’s economy.”
Steve Papazian, a Warner Bros. executive, said the state had “lost much of its film and television work” over the past two decades.
“The legislation is a catalyst to grow those positions for the thousands of current and future crew members who want to work here and for the myriad small businesses that supply and support our industry every day,” he said.
The bill will “ensure that film and television production will continue to be a wellspring of middle-class jobs that fuel our economy and boost our communities,” California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski said.
The California Film & Television Production Alliance, which represents small businesses, local government officials and film industry workers who put on a letter-writing campaign to urge lawmakers to pass the bill, issued a statement to thank Brown and other lawmakers.
“We look forward to California becoming a viable option for film and television production once more, and our members look forward to being able to work and be with their families at the same time. Simply put, we are elated.”
—City News Service
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