The state Senate gave final legislative approval on Friday to revamping the subsidies that taxpayers provide to produce films and TV shows in Louisiana.
Senate Bill 254, approved without debate on a 33-2 vote, goes to the governor, who is expected to sign it into law.
Jubilant supporters in the film business predicted it would bring productions to Louisiana that have gone elsewhere in the wake of a 2015 rewrite of the film tax credit law.
“We have every reason to believe we’ll have a significant increase in production and jobs,” said Robert Vosbein, a New Orleans attorney and film industry supplier who is president of the Louisiana Entertainment and Film Association.
The 2015 legislation capped the amount of money that the state could pay out in redeemed tax credits, but did not limit the amount of tax credit certificates that the state could award each year. That, Vosbein said, caused a backlog of producers trying to claim their tax credits. Producers went to Georgia, Vancouver and other locales that provided more attractive subsidies.
SB254, which passed the House on Thursday, retains the $180 million cap from 2015 on how much the tax credits will cost taxpayers per year. The new bill also limits the amount of tax certificates the state can award, $180 million initially and $150 million per year after three years, to eliminate the backlog and provide the certainty that producers say they need to return to Louisiana.
The program that awards generous tax credits to underwrite film and tax productions in Louis…
“We hope it’s going to stabilize the program and bring more jobs,” said Cory Parker, who represents the members of the union for grips, electricians, set dressers, painters and many others who behind the scenes. “The phones have actually started to ring.”
SB254 would reduce the basic tax credit per production from 30 to 25 percent, provide an additional 5 percent credit for filming outside of metro New Orleans and cap each credit at 40 percent of the overall production cost. It also would limit the cost per movie to $20 million from $30 million and set aside 15 percent of the $180 million annual cap for productions that originate in Louisiana and are independent films.
SB254’s features were crafted through weeks of work by industry officials, officials at Louisiana Economic Development, the state agency that oversees the tax credit program, and state Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, the bill’s sponsor.
“Sen. Morrell gets a lot of credit for forging a compromise package that worked for the state given the financial situation, as well as the Hollywood studios and local companies,” Vosbein said.
Taxpayers have sunk more than $1 billion into film and TV productions over the year. Independent studies have shown that the program generates only 20 to 25 cents per dollar in state taxes for every $1 in taxpayer money it provides producers.
Louisiana taxpayers continue to get a return of less than 25 cents on the dollar from a cont…