Film incentives amendment defeated in NC House committee - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Film incentives amendment defeated in NC House committee

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RALEIGH, NC (WECT) -

The North Carolina Finance Committee voted against an amendment to its version of the state budget Wednesday morning that would have extended the state's film incentives program.

Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) proposed an amendment to the House budget but it was defeated 20-16. Davis' amendment would have extended tax breaks for movie and television production companies to 2017, reducing a cap on payments from $20 million to $15 million dollars while lowering tax breaks.

"In my heart of hearts, I thought it was going to pass, but it was going to be [a] very, very thin margin – maybe one or two votes at the most," Davis said. "I knew it was a gamble, but it was a gamble we had to take."

Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) claims House Speaker Thom Tillis is responsible for defeating the amendment.

"The Republican leadership allowed the amendment to be heard in finance this morning, sent a message last night to supporters, including our own Rep. Ted Davis that we were going to have success this morning," Hamilton said. "Then, when the committee meeting was going on, it became very clear, very quickly that people were working the room and turning votes from aye to nay."

She said the 4,200 people who work in the film industry should feel betrayed by Tillis.

"There are thousands of employees in District 18 and they certainly do feel double crossed," Hamilton said. "If I were in their position, I would as well."

Hamilton said there are several other incentives programs used in the state to attract business and development.

"What I find most troubling is this incentive benefits Southeastern North Carolina the most and it seems to be the one that the Republican party most wants to eliminate the most," she said.

Davis said he is pursuing other options outside the budget process to extend the film incentives, but would not provide details about his strategy.

Another proposal, supported by State Senator Bill Rabon, would turn the film tax credits into a grant program. That measure passed in the state senate. However, it has not been heard in the house yet.

Hamilton says converting film incentives to a grant program is not a viable solution for the film industry in this state.

"What was proposed is not a program that is viable for the industry," she said. "The industry has been very plain with us that if that's the only thing they end up with in terms of a grant program, then, it's effectively not usable by the industry. It doesn't function that way."

A petition was started by members of the North Carolina film community asking lawmakers to extend the current program. You can read that petition here: http://chn.ge/1kPR4ZM

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