New incentives give Illinois a fighting chance to win Hollywood film dollars

Tax incentive legislation passed the state Senate last week 58-0, a good sign that legislators are serious about boosting revenues from increased film production and vying with increasingly competitive states for Hollywood production.

Now the bill must pass the House.

At the least, the bill would extend the present film tax credit until January 2009. Without the three three-year extension, the bill will expire next January.

Under the proposal now in the House, producers would claim a 20% tax deduction on total production costs. They’d derive an additional 15% by hiring people from certain designated areas ? that’s up from the current 10% hiring incentive.

A curious addition to the bill, made at the insistence of Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), requires production companies report how much they pay each vendor and how many of those vendors are minority and women-owned businesses.

Legislators are confident that the governor will sign the bill this spring.

After a period when it seems most states were getting out of the film business by axing their film offices, many states have revived interest in the economic benefits created by film production.

The “trickle-down factor” in Illinois is 2.5 times the amount of the money spent by film companies in the state. Revenues for 2005 are an estimated $94 million.