A Senate bill carrying the hopes of the Florida film industry will go before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development on Thursday morning, taking it one step closer to reaching the House floor. The bill has already cleared the Commerce and Tourism committee with a vote of 6-0.
CS/SB 1646, filed by Sen. Jack Latvala R-Clearwater, is an economic package that contains a reform program for the film-and-entertainment tax incentive founded in 2010 that allotted $296 million for film, TV and video production in tax credits, redeemable only after production had wrapped. Sixty percent of the cast and crew of any given production also were required to come from Florida.
Although it was intended to last for six years, the money ran out in three. Instead of asking for more funds, the bill tweaks the former program, which ends on July 1, 2016, with more scrupulous auditing to make projects with higher return-on-investment for the state easier to identify and support with tax credits.
“The governor is looking for $250 million in incentive dollars to bring new industries to the state of Florida, while our industry is being recruited away from the state,” said Michelle Hillery, the current president of Film Florida, a nonprofit entertainment production association that has been lobbying the state. “We are looking for a way to satisfy the Senate and the House. But we know that the philosophy behind incentives in general is not being supported right now. We understand we cannot be as aggressive as what Georgia is doing right now. But we still have to be able to compete. Even with a lesser incentive, we can still have a viable film industry in Florida.”