Senate Finance Committee Took A Decent Film Tax Credit Bill And Turned It Into Garbage

Last night, the Senate Finance Committee finally heard the film tax credit bill that was passed on Tax Orgy Day I. They fixed it, but at the same time they managed to make the bill worthless.

First the good, they cut the film tax credit cap from $200 million to $180 million. However, there was some bad. If we’re going to have a film tax credit program, it should be used to build a homegrown film industry. The bill was passed in the House with provisions that would redirect the credits to films using Louisiana productions, companies, and actors. These provisions were stripped out in committee.

As the committee hearing began, House Bill 829 would cap the cost of the film tax credit at $200 million per year. It is projected to cost $250 million this year.

State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, and the bill’s sponsor, has favored keeping the program with some changes.

“We’re trying to make it more of an indigenous credit to film makers,” Robideaux told the committee.

He said the original intent of the tax subsidy was to build a film industry in Louisiana. But, he said, most of the money goes to a small number of big productions made by non-Louisiana companies. Robideaux said he would rather more Louisiana-based filmmakers claim the subsidies in smaller amounts.

But the committee “significantly gutted and weakened” that effort with an amendment, Sherri McConnell, who helped draft the legislation with Robideaux, said afterward. State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, offered the amendment.

McConnell, who previously oversaw the program at Louisiana Economic Development, said she hoped to reverse Claitor’s change when the bill makes its next stop, on the Senate floor. If approved there, in whatever version, it would have to be approved in the House to be enacted into law.

Not only did the Senate make this program worse, they also added back the SAVE Act provisions to the bill.

Hours after a House committee killed a higher education tax credit deemed essential to making Jindal’s “no tax” commitment work, a Senate committee retaliated by inserting the same tax credit into multiple House-backed bills lawmakers are hoping to pass.

Senate President John Alario said his Senate colleagues will continue to drop the higher education tax credit into House legislation, until the lower chamber acquiesces and agrees to adopt the provision.

“We have to have it,” Alario said, “In the game of politics, sometimes you have to rattle some swords.”

Once again, here’s the result of the Louisiana Legislature muddling along without the control of a strong governor. We get bills like this that look like a dog’s breakfast.

If the Louisiana Legislature wants to be an independent body, it needs to show leadership. This is not the example of the leadership Louisiana needs. Until the members of the Legislature learn to lead, we will continue to be a strong executive state.

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