Calling it a “shot of adrenaline,” South Florida Sen. Annette Taddeo on Wednesday stumped for her bill to bring TV and film incentives back to the Sunshine State.
Her measure (SB 1606) would create the “Florida Motion Picture Capital Corporation” to “encourage the use of this state as a site for scripted productions by providing financing to such productions,” the bill says.
“Movie, television series, and other film projects throughout the state will receive a much-needed boost through the use of innovative funding and a merit-based selection method,” said Taddeo, a Miami Democrat elected last year. She held a press conference at the Capitol.
“This effort will bring high paying jobs, grow the middle class, have a positive impact on small businesses, and restore Florida’s reputation as a top destination for film projects,” she added.
But, despite support from Republican Joe Gruters of Sarasota and Democrat David Silvers of West Palm Beach in the House, Republican leadership there has opposed incentive programs.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, in particular has derided other business incentives as “corporate welfare.”
Some history: In 2010, lawmakers set aside nearly $300 million for incentives to bring movies and television projects to Florida. That money ran dry soon afterward.
The problem, critics said, was that money was doled out on a “first come, first served” basis. That resulted in available funds being gone within the first year of the program.
Those incentives took the form of tax credits granted a production after it wrapped in the state and underwent a thorough audit, including being able to show it provided jobs for Floridians.
Taddeo’s bill creates a shell organization but — surprise — doesn’t fund it. Chris Ranung, a representative of the Congress of Motion Picture Associations of Florida, told reporters the plan will eventually need a “one and done” infusion of $10-20 million.
Corcoran, by the way, is term-limited this year. But his replacement next year, Speaker-designate Jose Oliva of Miami-Dade County, is a kindred skeptic when it comes to giving public dollars to private concerns.
Gruters said the speaker might be swayed by the job-creating aspects of the incentives deal: “So I think this is something he would be open to.” The Motion Picture Association of America “has shown that the economic impact of Florida’s motion picture industry resulted in almost 30,000 direct jobs and over $1 billion in wages,” a news release said.
But Andres Malave, spokesman for Americans for Prosperity-Florida, said it’s “not the role of Florida government to be in the movie business.”
“We have priorities to meet, and none of them include lining the pockets of Hollywood execs who should be contacting banks and venture capitalists to fund their projects and not relying on hardworking taxpayers,” he said in an email.
Taddeo’s bill, filed last Friday, has yet to be assigned to any committees.
Also of note, language in the bill makes sure the following can’t get money: “a commercial, an infomercial, or a political advertisement; a reality show; a game show; an awards show; a music video; an industrial or educational film; a weather or market program; a sporting event or sporting event broadcast; a gala; a production that solicits funds; a home shopping program; a political program; a documentary; a gambling-related production; a concert production; a local, regional, or Internet-distributed-only news show or current-events show; a sports news or sports recap show; a video game; a pornographic production; or any production deemed obscene.”
A Periscope video of the news conference is below:
— Jim Rosica (@JimRosicaFL) January 10, 2018