Originally posted on the Orlando Sentinel website from Gray Rohrer:
Lawmakers are hoping to redesign Florida’s defunct taxpayer incentive program for the film and entertainment industry, promising to “get more bang for less bucks” to get it approved. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, and Rep. Mike Miller, R-Winter Park, are sponsoring bills to restart the program. The old program ran out of money last year after film, TV, commercials, digital shorts and video game projects exhausted the $296 million set aside for the program in 2010.
“We’re trying to overcome where we failed with our program. Where we failed was no matter how much money we put in the program, it was all gone in a day,” Detert said.
Detert’s bill, which passed through a Senate panel Tuesday, would transfer the state film office from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to Enterprise Florida, a public-private entity that entices businesses to relocate to Florida.
The Film Commissioner would have more leeway to strike deals to get TV and film projects to film in Florida. The bill sets up a rebate program, similar to the old program in which productions would receive tax credits based on the amount of money spent on Florida products and wages.
But a separate fund funnelling upfront money to projects would be overseen by the commissioner as well. Seventy percent of program funds would go to tax credits and 30 percent would go to cash incentives.
Detert said it was too early in the budget process to speculate on how much money the program would get this year – if it passes into law. The Senate has historically been more in favor of the program than the more conservative House, but Miller said House leaders are getting behind the bill.
“I was honored that the leadership said let’s go and make this film credit a reality,” Miller said.
Detert and Miller say they want to compete with states with robust entertainment incentive programs like Louisiana and Georgia so the state doesn’t lose jobs and investment.
“We think we’re going to spend a substantial amount of money to get the film industry here permanently and we don’t have to spend as much as other states,” Detert said.
But free-market activist groups like Americans for Prosperity have slammed Detert and other backers of the incentive program as giving away taxpayer money to entertainment industry executives.
The bill includes additional incentives for productions that make at least $2 million in property improvements or create “family-friendly” films.
“Family-friendly” is defined in the bill as a movie that does not “exhibit or imply any act of smoking, sex, nudity, or vulgar or profane language” and that “embodies a responsible resolution of issues.”
Click HERE to read the article on the Orlando Sentinel website.