A bill to extend California’s film and TV tax incentive program through 2030 has been placed on hold, as lawmakers continue to work on elements of the bill, including a new diversity mandate.
The state’s $330 million tax credit for Hollywood is currently set to expire in 2025. Sen. Anthony Portantino has worked on a bill, SB 485, that would add another five years to the program.
Last week, a new provision was added requiring that productions that receive a tax credit adopt hiring goals that are “broadly reflective” of the state’s demographics. Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, led the effort to include that provision, which also adds an extra 4% subsidy for projects that meet their diversity targets.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his support for the tax credit extension earlier this month, and the bill was expected to be approved by the Legislature before the end of the session on Aug. 31.
But in a statement on Thursday, Portantino said the bill would be put on hold until the next session in January.
“Given the Governor’s commitment, it does not seem pressing to push SB 485 through right now, while there is still time to thoughtfully act before 2025,” Portantino said. “This is an important and successful fiscal and jobs program and I am committed to seeing it extended. Further, I appreciate the work of the bill’s co-authors, in particular Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo.”
The diversity provision would set a goal of reflecting California’s population in terms of race, ethnicity and gender. That has received some pushback from activists who have been urging Hollywood to increase representation of people with disabilities.
“It’s kind of maddening that this bill just excludes us — it doesn’t even mention us,” said James LeBrecht, co-director of the Netflix documentary “Crip Camp.” “This oversight isn’t benign. It reinforces this idea we don’t really matter — that we don’t exist.”
In an interview, Portantino said he had not heard from the disability community about the bill, but that such issues can be addressed next year.
“We’re going to have a legislative session to hear input and seek input,” he said. “All of the policy pieces are going to be hashed out during the legislative session.”
He also said there is “no dissension” on the importance of the diversity provision, and that the remaining policy issues relate to “technical” aspects, such as eligibility windows.
“I don’t think there’s much disagreement at all,” he said.
The extension would fund the program at $330 million per year for each of the years from 2025-30 — the same level as 2020-25. The Legislature enacted a temporary two-year increase to $420 million in 2021. Portantino said the final dollar figure in the extension bill would likely be a function of next year’s fiscal forecast.
Newsom issued a statement on Thursday reiterating his support for the extension.
“The film tax credit has been hugely successful,” he said. “Just this week we had four new big budget films and 14 independent films receive tax credits for filming in California that will generate hundreds of millions in spending and thousands of jobs across the state. I thank Senator Portantino and Assemblymember Carrillo for highlighting the program through SB 485, and I am committed to working with the Legislature and stakeholders next year on extending and strengthening this program which helps drive the state’s economy and support California’s iconic film industry.”