Film lobby calling for gubernatorial veto of film tax credit cap bill

Film lobby calling for gubernatorial veto of film tax credit cap bill

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When the year began at Celtic Studios, executive director Patrick Mulhearn told us "Hollywood South" was poised to have another banner year.

"I'm still cautiously optimistic," said Mulhearn.

But following this year's legislative session, the local industry's future now seems a lot more uncertain.

On Thursday, lawmakers passed a bill to cap the film tax credit. It's a rebate, giving filmmakers back 30 percent of their local costs.

The program cost taxpayers $226 million last year. Next year, credits would be capped at $180 million if Gov. Jindal signs the bill into law.

Some film advocates hope that doesn't happen. Thousands have signed an online petition calling for a veto.

"He's been a governor who's touted job growth and I don't know that he wants to end on a low note of killing a lot of jobs," said Mulhearn.

Mulhearn originally supported the bill before major changes.

As it stands now, filmmakers would seek their rebate after production is over. That means if a person tries claiming their credit after the state has reached the cap, they won't see that money until at least the next year when the cap resets.

"You should be capping credits that are issued, not credits that are claimed," said Mulhearn.

Other changes Mulhearn opposes include the bill no longer creating incentives to grow the business locally.

Nevertheless, Mulhearn says while the new cap is a bad bill, the situation for "Hollywood South" could be worse.

Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, initially backed a measure to phase out the credit entirely.

"That was an 'industry-ender.' This is almost like a backbreaker. We're still alive, but it really will end all the growth that we've been seeing," said Mulhearn.

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