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Film-tax credit’s progress encourages city officials

Posted: August 31, 2012 4:47 p.m.
Updated: August 31, 2012 4:47 p.m.

Santa Clarita city officials applauded the progress of a bill providing a $100 million film-tax credit to stem runaway production after the bill appeared headed to the governor’s desk during a last-minute legislative session Friday.

“We have over 6,000 of our residents working in the film industry,” Santa Clarita Mayor Frank Ferry said Friday. “Anything the state can do to keep those jobs in California is huge.”

The bill, which would extend the existing tax credit by two years into 2017, passed in the state Senate mid-day Friday and was sent back to the Assembly with minor amendments. The Assembly, which initially passed the bill earlier this month, was expected to approve the amended bill late Friday night and send it to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office for his signature.

“The amendments were minor and don’t impact the scope of the bill,” said Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, who co-authored the bill. “We expect it to move through the Assembly just as easy as first time.”

“It’s important to keep (filming) jobs here in California and in my district, where they have an impact both on the city budget and the economy as a whole,” Smyth said.

The bill prompted some debate in the Senate earlier this month when some lawmakers accused the state of favoring certain industries through tax incentives.

Republican Sen. Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo accused the state of giving tax breaks to politically-connected industries.

The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office said the bill could cost $22 million in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The bill’s author, Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Monterey Park, said the tax credit has already generated $2.9 billion in the past 2 1/2 years.

New York, a main filming competitor for California, along with 40 other states, offer tax credits that are sometimes better than the ones offered in the Golden State.

Jason Crawford, economic development manager for the city of Santa Clarita, said a third of the productions that qualified for the state incentive were filmed in Santa Clarita.

This year, the City Council approved a three-year extension of a $50,000-a-year city tax incentive for production companies, Crawford said. So far, 30 companies have taken advantage of the incentive, generating $25 million locally, he said.

“The state extending the film incentive is great for Santa Clarita,” Crawford said. “We believe it will increase the momentum of filming in Santa Clarita.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.




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