California lawmakers are debating a tax credit that would help staunch the exodus of film and television production to New York and elsewhere.
Even as Washington passed a stimulus package with no help for Hollywood, Sacramento this weekend considered a package of $100 million in tax credits aimed at keeping movie and tv production in the state.
As of Sunday evening, Gov. Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders had not lined up Republican votes to get the budget deal finished, leaving the production tax credit – and everything else — in doubt.
The initiative backed by the governor has so far survived attempts to kill it in intensive budget negotiations going on in the capital. It will be part of the final deal to close a $42 billion budget gap when state lawmakers vote this weekend in Sacramento.
The so called Ugly Betty Production Credit – named for the ABC show that relocated to New York City last year – would fund the program at $100 million a year for five years, providing a new incentive for California-based studios to shoot their projects in the state.
California has lost millions of dollars of commerce with an exodus of films and productions to Canada, New York, New Mexico and other states that offer aggressive tax incentives to help producers.
A study by Film LA, which tracks location shoots in Los Angeles, found that production outside of locally-based studios fell 14 percent last year, to 7,043 days, the lowest level since annual counting began in 1993.
Meanwhile tax credits of 30 percent from New York State and an additional 5 percent from New York City helped create nearly 20,000 jobs in New York State, according to a study by Ernst &Young for the state Economic Development Office and the Motion Picture Association of America. (Though New York just recently ran out of money for its program.)