In Raleigh Wednesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers took to a stage of sorts, in an effort to build support for the state’s film incentives. The tax rebate program faces an uncertain future and may expire at the end of the year.
Currently, if a TV program, commercial or movie spends more than $250,000 on salaries, supplies or other costs, the production company can get 25 cents back for every dollar they spend, with a cap of 20 million per production.
North Carolina has one of the most generous film incentive programs in the nation. And the industry says it makes good economic sense for the state citing an estimated $160 million annually for local businesses. That is key for Rodney Moore, a Mecklenburg county Democrat. "You're talking about support jobs, carpenters, caterers and barbers." And Moore added if the incentive program dies, all those jobs would be negatively affected.
For Republican Charles Jeeter, also from Mecklenburg county, it’s also about the more than 4,000 full time production jobs the industry says it supports. "Anytime we can put people to work, we should. And to me there is tangible data that shows this is a quantifiable job producer."
But that data is disputed. One report out of NC State, which was sponsored by the film industry, found that that for every incentive dollar the state pays out, it gets more than $9 in return. A review by the North Carolina Fiscal Research Division says the incentive actually cost the state more than $30 million in 2012.
Now it’s up to lawmakers to decide what the film industry is worth. If they don’t act, the program will sunset January 1. The governor has proposed a more restrictive incentive cap in his budget.