House votes to add film incentives sunset clause

In a surprising move, orchestrated by the House majority leadership and pushed through in Wisconsin-like speed without forewarning or debate, the Illinois House voted to kill the no-sunset clause of the Illinois tax credit in five years.

Late Thursday afternoon, 43-page bill SB4 that ended various business credits, passed with a vote of 90 to 20.

The film incentives’ clause was at the tail end of the bill, and looked like it had been tacked on at the last minute.

“Ending the sunset could severely impact the filming of television series in the state,” noted Essanay’s Wayne Kubacki, a founding board member of the Illinois Production Alliance, which single-handedly oversaw the passage of the film tax credits in 2008.   

“If they don’t see these incentives lasting in a state, the chances of getting the studios to come here are slim – unless we get new legislation at the end of five years,” added Local 476’s Mark Hogan, IPA president.

TV shows provide the most stable jobs, promote capital investment and provide an environment to grow new production talents in entry level jobs and internships, reminded the IPA, in an Email bulletin to members.

While he was surprised, Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal was also optimistic in the long run.  “If you look across the country, we have far more to offer than other states have and in the short term, that bodes well for us,” he said.

“As the incentives continue to show positive results, we have to make a stronger case for it.

Rep. Skip Saviano, industry supporterDefending the non-sunset before the vote were Rep. Skip Saviano (R-77th Dist.), an active tax credit proponent, Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-5th) and Rep. Greg Harris (D-13th).

“What’s surprising is that no one caught wind of the bill before that quick, Wisconsin-like vote,” said a prominent industry leader who asked not to be quoted.

“We had heard something was brewing in the legislature a few days ago, but no specifics were given and they’d been reassured that the film credits were safe,” he said.

Interestingly, several people — independent of each other — said, “Someone or something must have pissed off Mike Madigan,” which was part of the shocker, since the House Speaker has been supportive of the film credits since Day One.

“Why didn’t someone reach out to us?  We have an official organization and we’ve had productive conversations with legislators in the past,” said Tom Fletcher of Fletcher Camera and a long-time IPA member.

No date has been set for a vote on SB4 in the Senate.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Gary Forby, John O. Jones and Dan Kotowski.

House sponsors were Rep. John E. Bradley,  John D. Cavaletto, David Reis, Dan Reitz, Brandon W. Phelps, Karen May and Naomi D. Jakobsson.

The IPA urges all concerned film industry workers to contact their state senators to let them know they are opposed to an amendment with a sunset provision.