LOS ANGELES (KCBS) – Film and television industry leaders planned to meet in Pasadena Friday morning to discuss the future of the entertainment industry in the golden state with one of the main topics being the extension of generous film tax credits.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

Two years ago, as other regions became more inviting to the film industry, California lawmakers devised a plan to retain the lucrative entertainment business.

“Canada and other states have become more competitive from a tax standpoint of view and so in 2009 the legislature created a program that would set aside $500 million in tax benefits to keep jobs in California,” explained Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge). “What the productions brought as an economic benefit to California is over $6 billion, just from a $500 million investment.”

Portantino, who himself spent many years working in film and television, acknowledged that the film tax credits were a hot-button issued. Still, he defended them nonetheless.

“Television, feature film, commercial filming, all of those industries are central to our success and have great California history,” he said.

Portantino, a member of California’s Film Commission, was quick to point out that the credits weren’t mere handouts. Rather, they were given with firm expectations – namely, that the production had to be completed before the money was issued.

“The beauty of this credit is you actually have to make the production before you get the money,” Portantino explained. “That’s why you see both the right, left and center, everybody lining up behind to support it, it’s that it’s accountable and you can see the discernable economic benefits.”

A report was expected to be issued at Friday’s meeting about the credits. Portantino was confident the report would show that the credits were worth it.

“These are jobs that have tradition, these are jobs that are largely middle class with healthcare benefits and huge benefits to the California economy,” he said.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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