SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept 18 (Reuters) - Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Thursday tripling California's tax breaks for entertainment companies doing business in Hollywood's home state, in an effort to stop production moving elsewhere.
Aimed at luring production back to California even as other states offer tax breaks of their own, the bill, signed at a famed movie house from Hollywood's heyday, won approval just days after Nevada persuaded electric car maker Tesla Motors to build a massive battery factory near Reno with $1.3 billion in tax credits and other incentives.
"This legislation targets the heart and soul of this industry and our middle class - people who swing hammers, run cable and serve food on set so they can pay the bills and spend money in our economy," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a news release after the signing at the TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
With thousands of jobs dependent on film and television production in Southern California, Garcetti said the tax breaks would allow the state to fight back against incentives offered by other states.
The state's economy has taken a $2 billion hit from runaway production in the past four years as producers sought cheaper places to do business, according to the California Film Commission.
The bill increases the amount of money available for tax credits for film and television production to $330 million per year from about $100 million.
Under the measure, the tax credits will be awarded through a lottery system, with preference given to companies that create the most jobs and do the most to help the state's economy, Brown's office said.
California has been battling for years to keep its storied film industry, a source of thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenues, at home, even as producers have sought cheaper places to film than heavily unionized Los Angeles.
The number of productions fleeing California has increased in recent years despite a state program meant to offer tax incentives to keep them in the most populous U.S. state. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)