Our View: What’s a mere $200 million for Hollywood?

June 10, 2014 

LA Mayor

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wants legislative approval to extend and expand the $100 million-a-year film tax credit.

NICK UT — The Associated Press

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, in his first Capitol visit since taking office, proclaimed last week that there is “universal support” for one of the baubles he seeks, a bigger and shinier Hollywood tax credit.

Garcetti is seeking legislative approval to extend and expand the $100 million-a-year film tax credit, which is supposed to stop producers from making movies in other states and countries.

“I think we’ve changed the debate up here and there’s universal support,” Garcetti was quoted as saying in The Los Angeles Times. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s how much. And for me, to just double the tax credit would be more symbolic than tangible.”

Since when is $200 million symbolic?

Not to be stodgy, but budgets are full of trade-offs. For every $100 million that goes to Hollywood productions, $100 million doesn’t go to another program.

On the same day Garcetti lobbied for $200 million for Hollywood, Service Employees International Union members swarmed the Capitol demonstrating for $150 million to raise the pay of in-home supportive service workers, the people who care for invalids, which is hardly symbolic.

Assembly Democrats are seeking $229 million to pay for increased payments to welfare recipients, plus $78 million in food assistance, and another $200 million for state-funded housing for poor people. Senate Democrats want $380 million to create preschool for poor kids.

We love movies and think the entertainment industry is integral to California’s economy. If we were betting, we’d guess the Legislature will extend the film tax credit and that Gov. Jerry Brown most likely will sign it, though evidence that it does much good is mixed at best.

But the $200 million Garcetti calls symbolic comes from our collective pockets. And there are plenty of other worthy recipients who would view $200 million as very real money.

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