Politics & Government

Film incentives issue puts McCrory, Tillis in tough spot

The question of whether to extend the state’s film incentives is putting state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Gov. Pat McCrory in a tough spot.

Both GOP leaders have expressed support for the program that gives tax breaks to film companies to lure productions to the state. But now – amid a tight budget year and broader concerns about incentives – Tillis and McCrory appear willing to let it expire at the end of the year.

Under the current program, TV and film production companies receive a 25 percent refund on in-state spending up to $20 million. The industry says the policy lures major investments and films, particularly to the Wilmington and Charlotte areas.

House Republican leaders made clear last week they don’t support the current program.

“What we have right now is not acceptable to the body,” said Rep. Julia Howard, the House Finance Committee chairwoman.

Tillis, who is the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said he would “defer to the leaders who have looked at it more closely” but left open the door for a different program.

“We’re for things that create jobs and accrue a benefit to all taxpayers,” he said. “What we need to do is see if we can come up with a framework that fits those parameters. I’m wide open to that, and hopefully we’ll make progress before the end of the short session.”

Tillis is considered a champion of the tax credits by some, and in September, he told a Wilmington TV station he thought the program would be extended.

In his campaign, McCrory supported the program but said it needed restructuring. Ryan Tronovitch, a McCrory spokesman, said the governor’s plan for film incentives would be included in the budget’s special provisions, which will be released in about a week.