Texas Senate bill to eliminate Texas Film Commission

El Paso City Representative Peter Svarzbein testifies against SB99

The state of Texas stands to lose millions of dollars and thousands of jobs as a result of a new bill targeting the movie industry.

On Tuesday, a Bill was introduced to the Texas Senate that would eliminate the Texas Film Commission.

The program — known as the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program — offers qualifying projects rebates of up to 20 percent on money they spend in Texas. Supporters of the incentives contend they have created $5.55 in economic value for every dollar disbursed.

About $32 million was budgeted for the program during the state’s current two-year budget cycle, down substantially from $95 million during the 2014-15 biennium. House and Senate budget writers have earmarked a total of $10 million for it during the 2018-19 cycle, although Gov. Greg Abbott, a supporter of the program, has requested about $72 million.

The bill stems to get rid of that program.

“Unfortunately it’s a bill that is threatening the livelihood of the Texas film rebate program,” said Carlos Coral, a film maker in El Paso. “It offers incentives and rebates to production companies from California or New York that want to come and use Texas and Texas labor to create their movies.”

State Senator Bob Hall, R-Rockwell, introduced the bill. Hall said it’s not the proper role of the government to be meddling with the free market system, according to a report from the Austin American-Statesman.

“Those incentives keep our state competitive with other states, which offer more incentives than texas does,” said city of El Paso Representative Peter Svarzbein.

Svarzbein said without the Texas Film Commission, there would be no competition to get high-budgeted movies to film in Texas. He said the state could miss out on thousands of jobs per year.

“Th thing that people don’t realize about film and television production dollars is that money isn’t just going towards editors, directors or actors,” Svarzbein said. “IT’s going towards jobs for Texans. Hotel jobs, construction jobs and catering jobs for Texans.”

The bill was introduced to a senate committee. The committee will then vote to bring the bill to the full senate. No word yet when that vote will happen.

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