Film tax incentive program differences

PaFIA Members and Friends,

Over the past weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that the North Carolina legislature had voted to end the state’s film incentive program. Lawmakers were quoted expressing a desire to cut one of the oldest and most successful film programs in the country and instead provide incentives for other industries in North Carolina. The Motion Picture Association of America has warned the state that it will lose thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in spending on film productions. The state’s Commerce Secretary is lobbying legislative leaders to keep a portion of the program intact, to no avail.

Our concern is that some members of the Pennsylvania film and television industry may have become complacent over the last several years because of our success in Harrisburg. In 2009, the PA Film Tax Credit was threatened with extinction. It was regarded as a pet project of the Governor and welfare for Hollywood. Through hard work, the PA Film Industry Association reversed these negative mindsets. The tax credit program is now viewed by members of the legislature from both parties as an effective economic development tool that is providing jobs and support for Pennsylvania’s small business community. The debate this spring was not about whether to have a film tax credit program, but how to make it more effective. Some leaders felt that the program should be uncapped to realize its full potential for economic growth. All of the change in attitude toward the film program occurred during very difficult budget years for the Commonwealth; despite the reduction of many other programs statewide, the current film incentive program remained intact. Early reports on revenue for this fiscal year suggest that the Commonwealth’s economy is still struggling-our work is not done in Pennsylvania.

As a result of PaFIA’s work over the last several years, thousands of communications have occurred between members of the film industry and legislators. Regular meetings have occurred between PaFIA’s officers and the Governor’s office as well as the Department of Community and Economic Development. This work is consuming, tedious and difficult but it has certainly paid off. The big difference between the film programs in North Carolina and Pennsylvania is PaFIA. North Carolina does not have a strong organization that speaks on behalf of companies and residents in the state who depend on the film and television industry for their livelihood. There is no voice of the industry speaking to North Carolina legislators about the industry’s jobs and the citizens who hold them.

Opponents of our program in Pennsylvania are currently being held at bay in Harrisburg. The intensity of PaFIA’s campaign cannot lag or else our investment in the film tax credit program could come under the same threat that the North Carolina film and television Industry now faces. In order to meet our common goal of improving and expanding the tax credit program, the administration must continue to hear from PaFIA members whose daily lives are positively impacted by it. We have seen many successes, but there is no time to rest. Support for PaFIA has never been more critical. If you are not a member, join. We need your support now more than ever.

Sincerely,

The Pennsylvania Film Industry Association Board of Directors: David Haddad, Ray Carballada, Diane Heery, Kevin McQuillan, Dave Bowers, David Raynor, Chelsea Danley, Brian Hartman, John Horell, Jeannee Josefczyk, Mike McCann, Helen McNutt, Nancy Moser, Missy Moyer, John Rusk, Katie Scott, Andrew Sliben, Heather Tassoni, Paul Williams, Justin Wineburgh