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Movie tax cuts help struggling California economy: governor

A year-old program granting movie studios tax breaks for filming in California has saved jobs and should yield two billion dollars in direct spending, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said.

In a statement released Friday, the governor said the program was “creating and retaining tens of thousands of jobs and generating spending in California.”

“This is exactly why I fought so hard for tax credits in last year’s budget,” Schwarzenegger said. “Just the first two years of this incentive will generate two billion dollars in direct spending, with even more to come.”

The program, passed last year, allows the state to give up to 200 million dollars in tax breaks to production companies in its first year, and up to 100 million a year thereafter through the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

It was intended to help the state battle its ballooning deficit and keep jobs and money from the massive movie industry in California.

In its first year, Schwarzenegger said, 77 projects benefited from tax breaks, including 51 feature films, seven television series and 14 made-for-television movies.

He said the program had generated over 730 million dollars in wages paid in-state and that beneficiary projects had hired 18,200 crew members, 4,000 cast members, and over 100,000 extras for movies and television series.

In recent years, production companies have flocked away from California and US entertainment industry capital Los Angeles, taking advantage of tax breaks offered by other states, including Georgia, Louisiana and New Mexico.

The Milken Institute estimated in a recent report that the state has since 1997 lost 10,600 jobs in the entertainment industry and another 25,000 jobs indirectly related to the industry, a total loss for the state of around 4.2 billion dollars.

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