Film association hosts party to support tax credits

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A few celebrities walked the red carpet along with what is sometimes referred to as the free lunch crowd - invited state legislators.

The Louisiana Film & Entertainment Association threw a party at Celtic Studios to impress upon legislators the importance of the industry and the need to save state tax credits.

A state audit reported Louisiana's film tax credit program actually has a negative impact on the state.

The Louisiana legislative auditor said for every $1 in tax credits, the program generated almost $5.50.

However, once you factor in the fiscal impact, the state government is actually left with a net cost in the millions.

Several bills this year threaten to change the tax credits offered to the film industry, including one that will die in committee by Representative Ted James.

Film industry fans say Representative James and others are trying to gut the film industry.

"I hear that debate from the film industry," said James.  "I have to come back and hear from our students that we've asked to pay more tuition over the last couple of years, and I have to look at the folks who work in our hospital system."

A lot of those in attendance favor a last-minute compromise making its way through the House of Representatives.

"The changes that have been proposed as the bill stands now, out of the house and headed to the senate is great for the industry," said Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne.  "It does make some shavings, but it's not a sledge hammer approach."

State Representative Regina Barrow agrees. She attended the event with a number of other legislators on both sides of the tax credit issue.

"I'm glad they are here," Barrow said.  "I believe there was supposed to be some tweaking and I think what we are doing is right."

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