The Nevada Senate is hoping action taken Tuesday will spur more “lights, camera, action!” and make the Silver State a star for blockbuster productions headed for the silver screen.
Senators approved SB165 authorizing transferrable tax credits to lure the filmmakers to Nevada on a 13-8 vote. It now moves to the Assembly for consideration.
Sponsored by Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, the amended bill sets up a pilot program to provide up to $20 million in tax breaks a year for film productions. Ford says the goal is to encourage the industry’s prolonged presence in Nevada.
“This isn’t just about new jobs,” Ford told colleagues. “It’s new industry.”
Actor Nicolas Cage came to Carson City to lobby for the bill earlier this month.
Critics argue many states offer tax breaks and that the incentives do not lead to permanent jobs.
“I frankly don’t think this is good tax policy,” said Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, one of eight Republicans who voted against it. He cited a finding by the Tax Foundation that said tax credits for filmmakers fail to live up to promises of economic growth and increased tax revenue.
Ford conceded 45 other states offer some kind of incentive for filmmakers, and the Nevada bill sought to cherry pick ideas.
“We have the opportunity to see what the good, the bad and the ugly is and form a unique approach,” he said.
The bill caps available tax credits at $6 million per production. It requires a minimum investment of $500,000 and requires that 60 percent of all production money be spent in Nevada.
Ford said production companies filming on location not only bring jobs, but benefit local businesses, from lumberyards for set-building materials to grocery stores and Laundromats.
He cited the example of “Iron Man 3,” filmed in North Carolina that led to nearly $180 million in production spending.
“Spending was associated with 719 different vendors and in 84 communities across the state,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis said the bill gives movie makers “an excuse to come to Nevada.”
“This bill is not going to give back the most,” said Denis, D-Las Vegas. “They can go to other states that are offering more.
“But what we’re offering is what they want,” he said, noting Nevada is also close to Hollywood.
“We will have an opportunity to build that industry here.”
A Republican colleague, Sen. Mark Hutchison, agreed.
“I think we ought to give this a try. Give it a shot,” he said, adding he’s had people tell him they are interested in building a studio in Nevada.
“That to me has all the makings of an opportunity to diversify our economy ... in a measured way,” Hutchison said.