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Sens. Gould, Nelson spar over advancing new tax credits for film industry

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Tension among Republicans in the Senate this morning nearly boiled over during a caucus meeting regarding legislation to create new tax credits for the film industry.

Some oppose the proposal, and at least one Republican tried to keep the bill from advancing to the floor by invoking an informal rule to block the bill’s progress.

But the bill’s chief proponent, Sen. John Nelson, R-Litchfield Park, was ready and countered the move by showing the proposal is supported by at least half of Senate Republicans.

Under the majority’s rules, any Republican senator can block a measure by publicly asking for it to be held – unless the sponsor can show the bill has the support of at least half of the caucus, or 11 Republican senators.

Tension was palpable in the Senate Republican caucus when Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, a fierce critic of the measure, said he wanted a copy of Nelson’s list of supporters for HB2127 so that he could cross-check it against those who actually would vote for the bill when it goes to the floor.

When Nelson stood up to retrieve the list from Gould, Gould instead held the piece of paper over Nelson’s head for a few seconds before giving it back.

“We have the right to know,” Gould protested.

Senate President Steve Pierce clearly didn’t like what happened.

“We’ve been doing this wrong,” he said, referring to the majority’s informal rules. “We can talk about it if you guys can be patient.”

After discussing a few more bills, Senate Republicans met behind closed doors to discuss what procedures should govern contentious legislation.

After the meeting, however, senators said the issue remained unresolved.

Nelson’s bill would allow filmmakers to get a 20 percent tax credit for at least $250,000 in production expenses. The tax credit is increased by 5 percent if they use an Arizona studio for at least half of the production.

Critics argue that targeted tax incentives pick winners and losers, and lawmakers should instead be looking at broad-based tax cuts to spur the economy.

Supporters, however, say the incentives would help Arizona compete with other states, which also offer tax credits to filmmakers.

The next stop for HB2127 is the Senate floor for debate and vote.

4 comments

  1. Wake up Arizona, how would this not help our economy. My husband and I own our home here but he lives and works in California or Louisiana, because he is a Boom Operator for the Sound Department for the TV/film industry and can’t get work here. Think of all the money we spend outside of our home state.

  2. I suppose if they had added a gun amendment to the Film/ Media bill it would have passed without any objection from Mr. Gould ?

  3. Why would Senator Gould suffer a total meltdown on the floor today?

    Perhaps the people behind his curtain despise Arizona working families and JOB CREATION.

    He was spewing the same mis-information as last year. Maybe his puppet masters could write him a new script..

    (I know several who are out of work right now!)

    Not one penny of taxpayer dollars is spent on this bill. This is a tax NEUTRAL bill with no downside. The JOB creation and MILLIONS of dollars in revenue to the General Fund will benefit this state. This has been proven to be true in other states with a similar program.

    Support job creation and the economic benefits of filmaking in Arizona.

  4. Arizona Filmworker,

    Please point to any actual report or study that shows a state film incentive making more in new tax revenue than the program costs (Other than the discredited EY report from New Mexico).

    A refundable tax credit is, by definition, a cost to the state. Because production companies don’t actually pay taxes, they get a cash refund for the credits they can’t apply to owed taxes (because they owe little or none). That means if someone is paid $100,000 working on a film, Arizona will cash refund $30,000 to the producer who paid them. Unless the income tax on that worker is also 30%, the state will not break even.

    Your facts are wrong, as is your understanding of how film credits actually work.

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