Update — Governor’s office spokeswoman Lucy Nashed has clarified the statement by saying the following:
“$95 million goes to the Texas Film Commission and Texas Music Office. That is not solely for film incentives – also includes operating costs for both offices.”
Filmmakers and game developers are looking forward to rejoicing as word emerged on Thursday that the state Legislature has tripled the amount of money made available for incentives which will benefit Texas-based filmmakers and game developers to the tune of $95 million over the next two years.
Contrary to what some sources are claiming, this is not a finalized deal as of yet as Governor Perry still has to sign the legislation. The Governor has long been a proponent of a strong film industry in Texas; however, his signature is needed before celebrations can begin in earnest.
“The Legislature has appropriated about $95 million for film incentives,” says Lucy Nashed, spokeswoman for the Office of the Governor. “This, of course, is part of the full state budget bill that has been sent to the governor’s desk. As with all legislation, he is reviewing the final bill and will make a decision.”
The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program had a serious boost from the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association, which lobbied lawmakers to allocate $68 million generated by the Hotel Occupancy Tax. The reason is simple: heads in beds equates to money in the coffers of the hotels. The more productions that are happening in Texas, the better for it is for the hotels.
Representative Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) was a proponent of the initiative and explained that negotiations had been complex since she initially had only proposed $22 million for the 2014-15 fiscal years. The Senate had other ideas and had considered $70 million; however, when the two chambers finished their talks, there was a total of $95 million.
The initiatives program was originally proposed in 2005 as a way of competing with the neighboring states of Louisiana and New Mexico; it failed to receive funding the first time through though. In the 2007 legislative session though, the bill did receive $22 million in funding and in the 2009 session it was upped to $62 million.
Today, we now find ourselves at the $95 million mark so hopefully the doors will be able to swing open wide and we can welcome a whole lot of production business our way. Be sure to thank your state Representatives and Senators for helping to keep the Texas film industry strong.