It’s budget season again in Harrisburg. It’s like Groundhog Day. Please, refrain from getting so excited.
Earlier this month the House has passed its version (HB218) of the 2017-2018 budget and sent it to the Senate. This year, the budget is approximately $32 billion, with the two major areas of PreK-12 education ($12 billion) and health and human services ($13 billion).
Currently, the three largest taxes that contribute to the funding of that $32 billion budget come from personal income taxes ($13 billion), sales and use taxes ($11 billion) and corporate taxes ($3 billion) for a total of $27 billion. The remaining revenues come from a host of smaller taxes and fees. Now if the legislators propose spending more money than the expected revenues will cover, they’ll have to start talking about raising existing taxes, creating new taxes, issuing bonds (which adds to the public debt), or one time revenue gimmicks like the Farm Show Complex lease-lease back proposal that is under consideration. Additionally, proposals to authorize internet gaming and further privatization of the state’s liquor system will generate new revenues.
In the months ahead, legislators and the governor will argue about how to balance expected revenues with expenses. The problem is always that there is never enough money to cover all the proposed spending and sometimes even the expected revenues will fall short of expectations. House and Senate Republicans strongly oppose higher taxes, and the Governor has conceded that he won’t pursue them. They want to get re-elected and raising taxes doesn’t look good on the resume. Additional revenue “enhancements” being discussed are closing the Delaware Loophole, which currently allows corporations to avoid net income taxes by incorporating in Delaware, and the shale gas extraction tax. Both options are unlikely to be enacted for various reasons.
The option of cutting spending on existing programs is difficult as well. The state spends millions on health care services, community/economic development, transportation infrastructure, corrections, education and law enforcement to name a few of the hundreds of ways tax dollars are spent. Those proposed “cuts” could also be to some of the state’s tax credits, including the Film Tax Credit. However, while some credits may prove to be worth reviewing closely, I feel confident the film tax credit will remain at its current level.
As the House and Senate continue to deliberate the budget for May, June and possibly beyond… PaFIA will remain vigilant and actively engaged.
On April 7, Temple University's Fox School of Business hosted a screening for Dream Girl, a film about five female entrepreneurs who got the courage to launch their own start-ups and fought to change the way women are viewed in different industries. The screening was followed by the inspiring success stories of the five panelists: Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office; Dani Davis, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Girl Starter Media Company; LeAnn Erickson, Temple University Film and Video Production Professor; Neha Raman, CEO and Co-Founder of Rungh and part of cast in new TV show Girl Starter; and Diane Heery, CSA Casting Director and PaFIA Board Member.
Admission was free in addition to complimentary popcorn and beverages. Besides watching a powerful film and listening to the encouraging words of the speakers, attendees also benefited from the networking opportunities that followed the presentations. A PaFIA table was setup at the event to expose the participants to even more possibilities in the film industry.
The event was organized by Candace Kilstein, the former Executive Director of PaFIA, who expressed her continuous support for the organization. "The Women's Entrepreneurship Organization at Temple University's Fox School of Business really supports women, and we really support women in film, and we support PaFIA, and we'd love to help PaFIA in any way that we can."
Rebecca Markuson has always had an interest in movies, performing, cameras and storytelling. So, when she was looking for a college, Point Park University was a natural choice because of its strong film program. Her professors helped connect her with summer work with local filmmakers. “After that, my resume was just strong enough to secure the next job,” says Markuson. It just grew from there.
Markuson points out that working in the industry is a different path for everyone. “I’ve kept myself open to opportunity and always do what I can to support my fellow crew members.”
She also believes that working together through PaFIA to support the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit is important. Markuson emphasizes that the tax credit has made an impact on her own ability to work. “I have been working in the industry since 2012. At that time, the tax credit was in full swing. I went from project to project before the credit ran out,” says Markuson, who explains that she had to find temporary work until another project came to town. Today, she works in the industry as a Construction Buyer with “Mindhunter” Season 1.
Quick! Name the movie character and the movie: “I’ve been in prison a long long time. I'm the man who can get people things in here, but this new guy named Andy is peculiar. I like him. He helped us get work outside. And let me say May is one damn fine month to be working outdoors.”
If you said ‘Red Redding in the Shawshank Redemption,’ you would have won a prize at Sunday’s PaFIA event held at the Goldmark in Pittsburgh.
On Sunday PaFIA held a Quizzo event, inviting everyone to come out and test their film knowledge. Several sponsors donated gift bags and prizes including hand made jewelry, hats, t-shirts, gift cards and even a popcorn maker!
Jason Loftus, CSA started in the business as an actor and then got work reading for auditions. Fifteen years ago, he moved to casting. Today, he is the Casting Director and Partner of Heery-Loftus Casting of Philadelphia, PA. The Heery-Loftus resume boasts of notable projects in film and television like, Untouchable, CREED, Silver Linings Playbook, and others. The firm was the 2013 ARTIOS winner for casting for Silver Linings Playbook, the 2016 ARTIOS nominee for pilot casting for How to Get Away with Murder and the 2013 Primetime EMMY nominee for casting of a mini-series for Political Animals.
Loftus got involved with PaFIA to help preserve and lobby for the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit. He knows firsthand that the tax credit is a big selling point for whether or not a film comes to Pennsylvania. “The tax credit is part of the revenue stream for a film project,” he explains. “The reality in the industry is that studios and independent film companies are looking for incentives. The film tax credit is imperative; or we won’t get the business in PA.
“The tax credit goes hand and hand with what we do,” adds Loftus, who encourages crew members and actors to get involved to help support the work of the association. “It is essential to maintain and grow the tax credit in Pennsylvania, otherwise there is no work here.”
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org