- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 4, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina coalition of filmmakers and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are asking the General Assembly to continue a film-tax-incentive program that is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

The N.C. Production Alliance and several lawmakers and mayors from across the state gathered Wednesday to support tax incentives that will draw film and television projects to the state. They say the film industry provides well-paying jobs to North Carolinians and directly benefits local businesses and economies.

“This is a winner in tourism, economics … you name it,” said Rep. Frank Iler, R-Brunswick.

Filming has occurred in more than two-thirds of North Carolina’s 100 counties, according to the coalition.

Several House lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill last month asking for a 25 percent tax break off $300,000 in qualifying expenses. That measure is currently in the House Finance Committee pending review.

“To me, it’s a consistency of message issue. … In this day and age, anytime we can put people to work, we should do it,” said Rep. Charles Jeter, R-Mecklenburg. “This is a quantifiable job producer.”

The group cited a study by Dr. Rob Handfield, a professor at N.C. State University, as quantifiable evidence showing that the benefit of money spent by the industry outweighs the cost of providing the credit. But that study was disputed by the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division, which conducted a study that said the opposite and highlighted flaws in methodology and a misunderstanding of the tax code.

The film industry has a negative return on investment and does not pay for itself, according to the memo, released in April.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative activist group, released a statement Wednesday asking for the tax incentive to expire, calling it “crony capitalism.”