California’s TV, Film Tax Credit Bill Passes Full Assembly

The measure, to extend and expand program, must still clear the Senate and win Gov. Brown’s approval

California’s TV and movie tax credit bill cleared the full state Assembly by a 71-0 vote on Wednesday, leaving Senate passage and Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval as the final hurdles.

The bill, AB1839, would extend the program through 2022 and expand the eligibility to include movies with budgets over $75 million and network TV dramas. No dollar figure has been attached to the bill, but it’s almost certain to be significantly higher than the current program, which is capped at $100 million annually. That’s well below the credits offered by several states, such as New York, which makes more than $400 million available annually, and that had led to a major production exodus over the past several years.

Wednesday’s unanimous passage of the measure, introduced by Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) and Mike Gatto¬†(D-Los Angeles), was expected since many of their colleagues had signed on as co-authors to show broad support for the bill.

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“We can’t sit by and watch a $17 billion dollar a year sector of our economy leave California,” Assemblyman Bocanegra said after the vote. “This expanded and improved program will go a long way towards making California more competitive with other state’s programs.”

The legislation will have a tougher time in the State Senate, where opposition is expected from some Northern California legislators, who believe that the bill will disproportionately benefit Southern California. To address that concern, the bill has been amended to include an extra five percent credit for projects that shoot outside the L.A. area and include musicians and post-production, too.

Gov. Brown has yet to take a position on the bill. It’s touchy for him, because the bill faces opposition from some of the state’s powerful teachers unions, who believe spending money while funding for schools is being cutback is wrong.

The bill will in the next few weeks advance to the state Senate where it will face a new round of hearings before a vote later this summer. If it passes there, the bill would return to the Assembly for reconciliation and proceed to Gov. Brown for approval.