Originally posted on the Tampa Tribune website:
An effort to revamp the state’s approach to attracting film and television production is moving forward in the House and Senate, after Republican lawmakers openly panned the plan’s most vocal critic.
The measure (SB 1046), which in part would rank production-company proposals before offering tax credits, received unanimous support Thursday from the Senate Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations subcommittee.
“It’s really not incentives,” argued Sen. Nancy Detert, a Venice Republican who has been working for a couple of years to revive efforts to lure film and television production to Florida.
“We do not pay people to come here and make a movie,” she said. “What we do is after they come here, and spend money, they get a tax credit at the end.”
The vote came two days after the House Finance & Tax Committee voted 12-5 in support of a companion measure (HB 451).
The proposal is focused on revamping the structure of the program. It will be up to the appropriations committees in the House and Senate to decide if any funding should be set aside, said Rep. Mike Miller, a Winter Park Republican who is carrying the House version.
The measure has cleared two Senate committees. The approval Tuesday was the first for the proposal in the House, which is expected to be more critical of the package.
At both stops, lawmakers expressed displeasure with a flood of emails attacking the proposal from the conservative-advocacy group Americans for Prosperity-Florida
It has portrayed the state’s film and TV program as a giveaway of “taxpayers’ hard-earned money to Hollywood executives.”
“I hope you’re getting paid a lot of money to show up to these meetings and say meaningless things,” Detert told Americans for Prosperity lobbyist Skylar Zander. “You people serve absolutely no purpose.”
Detert’s comments came on the heels of House Finance & Tax Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, calling out Americans for Prosperity on Tuesday for statements that there are tax credits in the bill.
Fueling the opposition has been a study released earlier this year by the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, which found the state gets 43 cents back for every dollar awarded in tax incentives to productions.
The state has awarded $296 million in incentives since 2010.
Backers of the film and television industry say the study’s numbers are misunderstood as it only calculates tax receipts the government gets back, primarily through sales taxes.
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