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Leading Republican senator calls for expansion of film tax credit

| Thursday, June 6, 2013, 5:12 p.m.

HARRISBURG — The Senate majority leader said Thursday he'll introduce legislation to expand Pennsylvania's film tax credit, which gives producers a tax break for filming in the state.

Dominic Pileggi's bill would seek to “uncap” the tax credit that is limited to $60 million a year, his office said.

The program, started in 2004, has “created an industry” in Pennsylvania, said Pileggi, R-Delaware County. Data from 2011, the latest available, shows Pennsylvania ranked fifth among the states in film-related employment, with film-related wages totaling $248 million.

“The film tax credit is a strong tool for job creation generally, and it's proven to be a tremendous way for Pennsylvania to fight ‘brain drain' in particular,” Pileggi said. “One of the reasons I'm introducing this bill is to help reverse the decades-long trend of Pennsylvania losing talented young people to other states.”

The state Independent Fiscal Office issued a report saying that lifting the cap on the tax credit would have significant economic impact during the next year, at minimal cost to the state.

To qualify for credit, a production must incur at least 60 percent of its expenses in Pennsylvania. The amount of credit is equal to 25 percent of qualified production expenses.

As the second-highest ranking Republican, the party that controls the Legislature, Pileggi's bill has a solid chance for passage.

The bill would create a tax credit for video game production and provide incentive for post-production work by film and television producers, he said.

The film tax credit was initiated under former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell. Despite a $4 billion deficit in 2011, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett continued the credit.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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