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Restore film tax credits

"Five things we can do to give our economy a boost (include) fight to restore the film tax credit."


Sources:

Roy Cooper campaign website

Updates

"The Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence with a film crew in North Carolina in 2011, during filming. Photo credit: Murray Close, Lionsgate Films
"The Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence with a film crew in North Carolina in 2011, during filming. Photo credit: Murray Close, Lionsgate Films

Cooper's budget contains film grant funding

When Roy Cooper was running for governor, his campaign website included a section called "Five things we can do to give our economy a boost."

One of the five was, he said, to "fight to restore the film tax credit."

He took the first steps toward doing that Wednesday, March 1, when he unveiled his proposed budget. It contains a proposal to reinstate the tax credit, which ended in 2014. Cooper suggested that it start back up next year.

However, Cooper doesn't get to actually set North Carolina's budget. That job belongs to lawmakers; the governor just gives them suggestions. And it's likely that this particular proposal is going to face opposition at the General Assembly.

The film tax credit program was a pool of money the state used to lure movie and television productions to North Carolina, in exchange for tax breaks. Some of the projects it brought here included blockbuster movies Iron Man 3 and The Hunger Games, and TV shows Homeland and Sleepy Hollow.

The Republican-led General Assembly decided not to renew the program in 2014, replacing it in 2015 with a grant program with significantly less funding. After the switch, the number of movies and shows filmed in North Carolina dropped significantly.

Democrats tended to support the tax credits. Supporters said the credits were responsible for bringing in hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in spending that would otherwise have gone to other states.

Republicans, however, mostly said it was an unnecessary giveaway to Hollywood special interests.

So while Cooper's proposal might face some opposition, it's important to note he's already angling for a compromise.

In 2013, film companies had applied for $62 million in tax credits and spent an estimated $316 million in North Carolina in 2014, according to Raleigh news station WRAL.

The grant program that replaced the tax credits has a budget of $30 million annually – less than half what the state gave in tax credits the last two years they existed.

Cooper's proposal doesn't attempt to return the film tax credits back to their 2013 levels, although it would spend more than the current grant program.

He would restart a film tax credit in 2018, with a budget of $20 million that year and $40 million each year after that. Cooper would also lower the maximum amount a film could receive, from $20 million in 2013 to $12 million under his budget.

And while it still remains to be seen if GOP lawmakers will get on board, Cooper has at least put this campaign promise in motion. We rate it In The Works.

Sources:

WRAL-TV, Jan. 20, 2015, "Film productions dry up with loss of NC tax credit"

NC Film Office website

The News & Observer, March 1, 2017, "Cooper unveils his first budget proposal as governor"

North Carolina budget for 2015-16 and 2016-17 

Roy Cooper budget proposals for 2017-18 and 2018-19