400+ film/TV crew, actors, and supporters of the industry gathered at the famous Rocky steps in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 2.
The event was coordinated by the Philly film office with the goal to raise awareness of the importance of the PA film tax credits to bringing jobs to the Commonwealth.
It was an illustrious line-up of speakers: M. Night Shyamalan led off with an inspirational talk about why he chooses to shoot in his hometown. Other speakers included State Senators Vinent Hughes and Daylin Leach, Phila City council members Mark Squilla and David Oh (just out of the hospital!), actor David Morse, producers/stars of Comedy Central's "Delco Proper,"- John McKeever and Tommy Pope, indie film producer Sarah Meagan Thomas, Casting directors Diane Heery and Jason Loftus. Film Crews were well represented also with speakers from IATSE local 52, Teamsters local 817 (and their great "billboard" truck!), SAG-AFTRA, and many individual crew members (Leon Sanginiti, Susannah McCarthy, Jozef Jozefowski...) and PaFIA board members Mike McCann, James Madison, and John Rusk.
The crowd spanned all ages, with actors, crew, and industry supporters given a mission as they left: a call to action - contact your legislators, let them know how much the film tax credit means to JOBS in Pennsylvania!
Memorial Day has come and gone, propelling us into the next annual holiday (or so it seems)… the state budget.
As we all know, June is the busiest month of the year in Harrisburg – with feverish negotiations towards a balanced budget. And just like in years past, the state is stuck with a difficult decisions to make:
How much needs to be cut? What gets cut? If we can’t find enough savings in cuts, where do we get new revenue? Increase existing taxes? Establish new taxes?
So here we are, again. The shortfall estimate was $3 billion in early February when Governor Wolf announced his $32.3 billion budget proposal for 2017/2018, which begins July 1. At the start of deliberations for the commonwealth’s 2016-17 spending plan in early 2016, the deficit figure was being reported as approximately $2 billion. The situation seemed cautiously optimistic after Wolf delivered his budget address. Rather than building his budget plan predominantly on a foundation of new and higher taxes, his plan was to exact $2 billion in government-efficiency savings and only $1 billion worth of new levies.
The new-tax proposals revolved around applying the state’s sales and use tax to several currently exempted products and services; proposing again, as he has every year since becoming governor, a controversial severance tax on natural gas drilling; and assessing local municipalities without police departments for state police protection. He also projected that expanded gambling would bring in $150 million during 2017-18; $100 million of anticipated incoming revenue was included in this year’s budget, but that gambling expansion and money never materialized. The Senate passed an iGaming bill last week, but the Senate and House are by no means unanimous regarding all of what’s being proposed. As noted earlier, the state counted on $100 million in revenues from iGaming in THIS fiscal year. That $100 million lost due to legislative inaction since July 1, 2016 is gone – and as a result, only adds to the deficit.
Beyond that, even if gambling options are expanded, the amount of incoming revenue is by no means assured. Wolf has said in recent days that the Senate’s gambling-expansion plan would fall short of the revenue goal that he seeks.
Additionally, the Governor has proposed consolidating agencies – combining the Departments of Health, Human Services, Aging and Drug & Alcohol into one massive agency. There will be reported savings as a result of the consolidation. Then there’s the unease surrounding the government-efficiency proposals, primarily because of their impact on local-level services.
With all that said….. continued advocacy in Harrisburg by PaFIA has proven to leaders and members the value of the film tax credit program, citing the ongoing positive economic impacts in communities throughout Pennsylvania. The prospects of the film tax credit program remaining at current levels remains very good. PaFIA will remain actively engaged in the conversations and negotiations as the months move along.
The ultimate question at the macro level will be – as the 2017-2018 budget deliberations progress – will the final product simply get us through the next fiscal year but leave the state with a $4 billion deficit next year? Or will the difficult decisions made THIS year lead us to a better budget debate and discussion NEXT year?
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.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 email@example.com