Politicians have been falling over themselves in an effort to give your hard-earned tax dollars to the media moguls of Hollywood, and so far they've been successful.
If you ask us, they're being played: Film producers will continue to pit states like New York against California in a never-ending bid to get the most money out of taxpayers.
Today these manipulators are victorious: A bill that would give up $400 million in tax money to Hollywood passed the all-important Senate Appropriations Committee:
The bill, AB 1839, was designed to stop so-called runaway production from leaving California for states like New York that offer better tax incentives.
At present, New York spends more than $400 million a year wooing Hollywood film and TV productions back east. California's Hollywood tax incentives are currently capped at $100 million.
But every time one of these tax-incentive bills is enacted, another state ups the ante with even more cash for the media elite.
In spring a state Legislative Analyst's Office report on the bill by L.A. area Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra and Mike Gatto pretty much said just that. It also added, ” … The film tax credit does not 'pay for itself.”
In a state where roads are crumbling, it's hard for us to fathom giving away money to corporate giants with headquarters in New York. On top of all that, the entertainment industry, which drives up the our cost of living, rent, and real estate, is overwhelmingly white in this majority minority town.
It's not clear if the bill would be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who might just share some of those concerns. For now it would still have to pass the full Senate.
The politicians claim the proposal is a job saver, particularly for L.A. This is a strange example of true-blue democrats embracing trickle-down economics, a Republican theory.
Today Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had this to say:
This represents a responsible and significant investment in the future of California's middle class,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We need an enhanced tax credit program to compete and win against the other states and countries that are siphoning jobs and revenues away from California. The current incentive is insufficient, and forces California to turn productions away, along with jobs and revenues that should be here and supporting our schools, infrastructure and public services.
The mayor's use of the term “middle class” is, well, factually challenged. He must be thinking of the kind of middle class that can afford million-dollar homes near his Silver Lake residence.
Even most so-called “below the line” workers in Hollywood (grips, for example, who often make six figures) earn far more than L.A. County's median single earner income of $27,900.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto seems to agree with Garcetti's assessment:
I’ve heard from so many people over the past year, who have told me about their family being torn apart because production left the state. This proactive effort ensures well-paying jobs stay in California and families remain together.
So the next time you spend a day at the DMV or try to send your kid to the University of California for three times as much as it would have cost a decade ago, remember that the entertainment titan who lives at the top of the hill might end up getting a new, Rolls-Royce-sized tax break.