Originally posted on the Herald-Tribune website from Jeremy Wallace:
A state legislator from Sarasota County took another big step on Thursday toward revamping the way Florida runs its filmmaking incentive program in a bid to grow the movie industry in Florida.
State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, filed a 66-page bill that would change how filmmaking incentives are awarded with the hopes of attracting more longer term projects that can be a cornerstone industry for the state.
How much money would be set aside as film incentive money is still uncertain, but Detert said to make whatever amount, the state has to change how it awards money.
The current tax credit program was scheduled to run from 2010 to 2016, but the demand for the program was so high that the $269 million in tax credits for the program was quickly exhausted. With no money in the pot, Detert said Florida is losing out on attracting films – even ones based on the Sunshine State – to other states that are being more aggressive in attracting studios.
Detert’s new bill would make the film tax credits essentially a rebate program where filmmakers who prove they hired people in Florida and spent money in the state would get tax rebates at the end of their project.
In addition, Detert’s SB 1046 would release film incentive rewards twice a year to assure all the money isn’t gone at one time.
Detert’s bill also creates a more aggressive film commissioner position that would actively recruit bigger projects that fit the goals of the state. That means finding film projects that help promote tourism.
Even before the bill was filed, opponents to her bill have been lining up. A tea party affiliated group, Americans for Prosperity, has already begun an ad campaign in Florida calling the incentive program a tax giveaway to Hollywood executives.
Chris Hudson, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, said tax credits to filmmakers and sports teams is corporate welfare that must be stopped.
Detert rejects the attack, saying film making produces a return on investment better than money the state hands out to sports teams and creates jobs far beyond just actors. She said in the past, production crews have employed Floridians for carpentry jobs, food services, transportation and of course other production facets.
“These are good paying jobs,” Detert said.
Detert tried to expand funding for the film making program last year, but the bill failed. Detert, entering her final 4-year term in office, said this year it is one of her top priorities.
Click HERE to read the article on the Herald-Tribune website.