Film industry workers concerned about proposed bill
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.