Senate Finance Committee revives SAVE credit - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Senate Finance Committee revives SAVE credit

(Source: WAFB) (Source: WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A debate over movie tax credits in the Senate Finance Committee had an interesting plot twist when the Chairman of the Committee Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, added an amendment to rescue his failed SAVE credit bill.

The Student Assessment for a Valuable Education (SAVE) credit was a plan to charge a $1,700 fee on new college students. However, they would never actually have to pay up thanks a tax credit. The whole bill earned the nickname of a phantom fee, one that supporters say is critical to passing the budget.

"We think it helps offset any revenues with an equal amount of tax credits on the side so that we balance it out and sets a big challenge to the governor to veto the bill as it stands now," said Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego.

It was effectively killed during a House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday. The move set the stage for Governor Bobby Jindal to veto the budget. 

However, a few hours later the Senate Finance Committee flipped the script as it were by adding an amendment to House Bill 829 that lowers the cap on movie credits. The amendment slipped in the SAVE language on page nine of the bill.

Alario says the strategic move gives them a chance to work out some "distrust" among lawmakers.

"We need to put that aside. This is too important to make sure we have a balanced budget," said Alario.

Meanwhile, the movie industry is caught in the middle and still fighting for its own credits.

"There's a psychological term called displaced aggression. It's kind of like if LSU loses and you go to work and yell at your coworkers, I kind of feel like that's what's going on with the film industry right now. Really we're not the problem. We're part of the solution to the problem," said Patrick Mulhearn, Executive Director of Celtic Studios.

With all amendments, HB 829 caps movie credits at $180 million, which industry leaders say will cripple Hollywood South. However, that same bill also supports home grown movie businesses which Mulhearn says is a positive move. 

Mulhearn also says he doesn't believe this will be the final word on the cap. In fact, many hurdles could still lie ahead for both the SAVE and movie credits as they head towards the Senate Floor.

"We're going to work through these things and try to work through with the House with this and try to get it all resolved,” said Alario. 

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