Senate committee proposes $300 million in entertainment incentives [Orlando Sentinel :: ]
(Orlando Sentinel (FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 04--Amid lobbying by filmmakers, production studios and video-game developers, a Florida Senate committee on Monday unveiled a plan to inject another $300 million into the state's entertainment-incentive program.
But the legislation also would make a series of changes designed to steer more of the new tax breaks toward big-budget television shows, such as the now-canceled series "Burn Notice" and "The Glades." And it could erode the amount available to video-game giant Electronic Arts Inc., which has a production studio in Maitland.
"We tried to have a package that was fair to everyone," said state Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, which introduced the bill a day before the opening of the Legislature's annual 60-day session.
Florida lawmakers have set aside about $300 million in tax credits in recent years for entertainment businesses, but the vast majority of those credits have already been claimed by completed movies, TV shows and video games or committed to future ones. The new bill would add another $300 million, with $50 million to be handed out each year for the next six years.
No company has taken greater advantage of the existing program than EA, which develops annual installments of popular sports titles such as "Madden NFL" at its EA Tiburon studio in Maitland. The Redwood City, Calif.-based company, whose lobbyists have been involved in writing laws governing the current incentive program, had received or been pledged $37 million in tax credits in the past three years.
EA's take has prompted grumbling from some in the film and TV industries, which have to compete with EA and other digital-media developers for tax credits.
The new legislation could curb that. For example, current law caps the amount of tax credits that can be awarded to major television productions. That cap would be eliminated.
EA could not be reached for comment late Monday, but the company has said in the past that the incentives have helped spur the growth of a strong video-game industry in Florida.
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