BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — As many industries are looking to get back to work after the pandemic, one bill at the state legislature looks to continue their incentives for the film industry that is also recovering.
The bill by Senator Sharon Hewitt extends the sunset date for the movie industry tax credit through the Motion Picture Production Program. This bill looks to bring more productions to Louisiana and encourage them to hire local residents to work on their productions.
The tax credit program has been in this form since 2017. It provides a 25% tax credit for productions that are based in Louisiana. There are also chances for an increase in the credit if people hire local residents and if they film outside the New Orleans metro area. Movies can get up to $22 million and shows can get $25 million.
The bill extends the sunset date of the credit from 2025 to 2028. People from the industry originally asked to extend the date to 2031, but it was amended in the Senate committee.
“This is an industry that really requires a little bit longer runway. It takes three or four years to make a movie and the decision to invest in a movie or to greenlight a movie those decisions are made several years in advance of that,” Senator Hewitt said. “So if we have a sunset that is too near term we’re going to be losing business.”
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser sent a representative in support of the bill saying that movies and tv shows bring a lot to Louisiana. An estimated 53% of tourists said a movie or show influenced them to visit the state.
Some are against the credit because they say $180 million lost each year is not properly offset from the other benefits.
“I really don’t know why we’re bringing this today. That concerns me a lot,” Representative Phillip Devillier said. “I think if you look at the $180 million that it costs the state we can certainly get rid of the franchise tax, we can lower the corporate income tax, and spend more money on roads.”
Senator Hewitt said having productions in Louisiana brings business to local restaurants, hotels, and creates thousands of jobs. In 2020, during the pandemic, $430 million in productions was invested in the state.
“This program generates on both direct and indirect jobs a 6-1 benefit to the state. Now when you just look at the sales taxes that’s where you get the number that is less than a dollar and we don’t look at very many of our tax credit and exemption programs that way right now,” Senator Hewitt said.
The bill still went without objection and now heads to the House floor.