UPDATE (March 8, 2012) — The House has passed the Washington Filmworks renewal legislation and tit is headed to Gov. Cgris Gregoire’s desk for signature.
OLYMPIA (March 6, 2012) — SB 5539, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, would reinstate a relatively small tax incentive ($3.5 million) called the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program to encourage film making in our state and attract a wide range of associated jobs and economic investment. The Washington State Labor Council strongly urges the House to allow a vote on this Senate-approved legislation that enjoys bipartisan support.
The program, administered through Washington Filmworks, is considered a model because productions receive incentives for expenditures made in Washington state businesses and for Washington state workers who are paid good wages and benefits. Since 2007, it is credited for generated more than $107.7 million in economic activity in the state. This video interviews a wide range of workers who have benefited from that economic activity.
What’s great about Washington Filmworks and the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program is that, unlike tax incentives that are granted in the hope that they will spur investment and create jobs, filmmakers only receive Washington Filmworks rebates after the production is completed and the jobs have been created. Plus, the program also encourages productions to maximize in-state spending because incentive funds are only allocated for expenditures made within the state.
That’s why, even amid a state revenue crisis, this is a “tax incentive” that has earned strong support from organized labor. Delegates representing unions from across the state voted unanimously to support the program at the Washington State Labor Council’s 2011 Convention.
The independent Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee has recommended renewal of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program because it is “achieving the objective of maintaining Washington’s position as a competitive location for filming.” Thirty-nine states have similar production incentives in place.
SB 5539 easily passed the Senate 40-8 and was advanced, with bipartisan support, by the House Community & Economic Development Committee. But it has been bottled up in the House Ways and Means Committee for two weeks, where Chairman Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Bellevue) has expressed some concerns about the program.
The Washington State Labor Council strongly urges the House to take action and allow a vote on SB 5539, which has clear bipartisan support and is certain to pass.