Lawmakers looking to bring film back to Florida

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News) – Film production companies could receive cash rebates for filming in Florida if new legislation making its way through the state legislature is signed into law.

It would be the first film incentive the state has offered in almost a decade.

Florida was once a prime contender for major motion pictures. Films like “Creature From the Black Lagoon” and “Flipper” were filmed here.

But over the past few years, Florida lost out on more than 70 major films and TV projects to other states costing $1.3 billion in lost economic activity and 110,000 potential jobs.

Recently, “Bad Boys 3” shot 10 days in South Florida, then spent three months and $50 million in Georgia.

“Those are all jobs and that’s money that should be in our state. In our economy, not somebody else’s,” said John Lux, the executive director of Film Florida.

Related story: St. Pete-Clearwater Film Commission sees record numbers in 2019

But new legislation would offer up to a $2 million rebate for production companies that choose Florida.

“The sunshine and low tax environment just isn’t enough, we have to be able to compete,” said bill Sponsor Sen. Joe Gruters.

In 2010, lawmakers earmarked nearly $300 million for film incentives. Although disputed, the state estimated the return on investment was only 43 cents to the dollar.

Philip Suderman with Americans for Prosperity believes the new proposal would have a similar result.

“This is a handout from the state using taxpayer dollars to give to targeted businesses. This is corporate welfare,” said Suderman.

But to qualify for the proposed rebate, productions must employ 60 percent Florida residents and spend 70 percent of total production time in the state.

Lux said that will guarantee a good return on investment.

“Providing high-wage jobs for Floridians, bringing more projects here to the state which is going to mean more tax revenues for the local counties as well as the state,” said Lux.

The legislation has cleared one Senate Committee. A similar proposal in the House has not yet received a hearing.

Currently, 33 states offer film incentives. That’s down from 44 in 2009.

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