Film industry workers concerned about proposed bill - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Film industry workers concerned about proposed bill

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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Some lawmakers want to make some changes to the state's film incentive program.

Folks who work in the industry aren't happy about the idea.

Industry representatives say that house bill 9-94 would "gut" the state's film incentives program by giving productions a five-year tax credit instead of a tax refund.

Representative Rick Catlin, who co-sponsored the bill issued a statement today.

"The best incentive for business is a tax structure that benefits all businesses. The current process of picking some winners at the expense of other taxpayers is what I oppose.

However, this bill does not reduce the present film incentives. It removes the refund of unneeded tax credits and carries them forward for five years…. You would have to ask the film industry why they don't like this. Their answers may shine light on the unusual present use of tax payer dollars. The cash refunds we presently give the industry could go to education, infrastructure and lower taxes for all. The deferral of unneeded credits over five years would allow the film industry tax credits as they are truly earned and needed.

Based on the bill's committee assignments I would be surprised if it makes it to the floor. I was one of three other co-sponsors because I wanted to shine light on the details of how the present incentive program is being used. I knew this would cause controversy, but it is my job to look after our hard working taxpayers and ask tough questions.

It is sad that the film industry is threatening their local employees' jobs as a weapon to preserve the costly and unfair arrangement they now have. I hope the film industry continues to call Wilmington home."

Thomas Walters works as a special effects coordinator for film projects here in Wilmington.  Several years ago, he moved his family of nine children to the area to work in the industry.  Now, he's worried they may have to move.

"To have the job here and then it not be there because of someone else's decision, it destroys you," said Walters.  "People make careers out of this and now they have to go out on the road chasing jobs that could be in their backyard."

Walters says that workers follow the production companies.  He thinks the bill might scare them away.

"If the companies don't come here for work, I can't take care of my nine kids," said Walters.

The Walters family along with hundreds of other film industry supporters are planning a protest for Saturday.  It starts at 1:45 p.m. at Riverfront Park in downtown Wilmington.

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