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Gov. Brown, legislators reach deal to boost CA film tax credit

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Assemblyman Mike Gatto and Gov. Jerry Brown as they negotiated AB 1839.
Jeff Walters/Mike Gatto's Office

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Gov. Jerry Brown and leaders of the California legislature have reached a deal to increase the funding of California's film and television production tax credit program to $330 million per year.

The amount is more than triple the $100 million the program currently offers each year, but it is lower than the $400 million many advocates were hoping for. The higher dollar amount also appeared likely almost two weeks ago, when the Senate Appropriations committee passed the most recent version of AB 1839.

“This law will make key improvements in our Film and Television Tax Credit Program and put thousands of Californians to work,” Brown said in a statement announcing the deal. 

Despite a trim down to $330 million from the $400 million hoped for, Senate President Pro-Tem-elect Kevin De Leòn (D-Los Angeles) insisted the deal is a major victory. 

"I don't think anybody in their right mind ever thought that $400 million was a reality," De Leòn told KPCC. "It was more a negotiating point." 

Many supporters of an expanded program wanted at least $400 million to come close to matching California's chief rival in the battle for film and television productions:  New York State.  But De Leòn said California has other advantages.

"We don't have to be at $400 million with New York, because we have home grown talent that wants to stay here in California," he said. 

The deal was announced days after one state all but bowed out of the competition.  North Carolina legislators decided last week to eliminate their state's production tax credit program, as the Wall Street Journal reported.  In its place, North Carolina will put a $10 million grant program, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Assembly Mike Gatto, one of the co-authors of the measure to expand California's program, said he'd discussed North Carolina's move with Brown Wednesday morning.

"It's our hope that a lot of these states that were rather openly and brazenly trying to poach California jobs with these temporary tax credit programs will realize the error of their ways, and that ultimately they can't compete with California," Gatto told KPCC. "Whether it comes down to a talent pool, or the infrastructure we've got, or the great minds or the weather... or the willingness of our state to defend an industry that employs so many Californians in really good jobs." 

AB 1839 now heads to floor of  the Senate floor a vote, and then to a concurrence vote in the Assembly.  After that, it heads to Brown's desk for his signature. 

Film Tax Credit Fact Sheet

Film Tax Credit Allocation System