Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Committee Votes to Back film/TV Financing; by John Kennedy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Committee Votes to Back film/TV Financing; by John Kennedy

Article excerpt

Byline: GateHouse Capital Bureau

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's fading film and TV industry tried to flip the script Tuesday, touting a proposed state financing program that supporters say can bring back jobs and productions lost to Georgia and other states in recent years.

Even the sponsor of the film legislation, first-year Democrat Annette Taddeo of Miami, acknowledged that the push is mostly aimed at next year -- when Republican Rick Scott will no longer be governor.

"We know there are people who don't agree with this," Taddeo said after her proposal (SB 1606) was approved in a 4-2 vote by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. "But we think next year, there's a better chance."

Taddeo's bill would create the Florida Motion Picture Capital Corporation, to draw public and private money available to help finance feature film and TV production in the state.

The corporation would succeed an entertainment industry incentive program that was shuttered in 2016 after handing out $296 million in tax credits over the six years it existed. The incentive program was seen as an unnecessary giveaway of taxpayer money, by Scott and legislative conservatives.

The latest proposal also got two thumbs down Tuesday from Americans For Prosperity, the Tea Party-allied organization.

"Florida's gone down the road of trying to help the film and television industry and it didn't work out very well last time, and we don't really have any evidence that it would work under this structure," said Melissa Faust, with AFP.

The $296 million in the old incentive program was handed out to 312 projects, and helped make Florida a top production state, supporters said. But when Scott and lawmakers started tapping the brakes on funding -- no state dollars flowed to tax credits during the program's last three years -- other states passed Florida in production.

Georgia, dubbed "Ya'llywood" by some, pumps $340 million a year into tax credits, and now has 4,500 people working in the industry. …

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