As lawmakers tackle big-ticket items such as Medicaid and teacher pay, film incentives have "kind of been put on the back burner," said Rep. William Brisson (D) of Bladen County, one of the conferees appointed to iron out differences between the House and Senate spending plans.
"I hope the state doesn't walk away from the film industry," Brisson said. "When we have good industry, we ought to stand behind it."
Sen. Bill Rabon (R) said his plan to create a grant program to replace the expiring film tax credits is the most politically palatable option.
"The Senate is behind it," he said. "I think there's some traction in the House. The governor, I believe, is going to give us his support, and so if we have all three bodies, we should come out with something that's good for everyone, and hopefully good for the whole state."
But even if Rabon's film incentive grant program does pass, some fear it won't go far enough.
Among other things critics say the plan doesn't offer long-term guarantees for the film industry.
"It keeps the film program here in the state for a while and until the next budget, and then we can tackle it again and we can go forward," Rabon said.
Rabon explained many of his colleagues are starting to see film incentives as a statewide issue. Among them is Sen. David Curtis - a self-described "very conservative Republican" - who said he supports the grant proposal because many of his Charlotte-area constituents work in the film industry.
"There is a concern that once we get our education and Medicaid issues resolved, there's going to be a rush to leave and definitely some things are going to fall through the cracks," Curtis said. "And I think my job and Senator Rabon's job is to make sure film incentives is not one of those things that falls through the cracks."
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